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Assistant Practitioners and IR(ME)R 2000 and 2006

The definition of Operator is stated in IR(ME)R as:
‘’any person who is entitled, in accordance with the employer’s procedures, to carry out practical aspects…’’.

The  following guidance is intended for radiography education providers and clinical services managers about the entitlement of trainee assistant practitioners as IR(ME)R Operators during their education and training and while undertaking practice based learning.

Under IR(ME)R 2000 and 2006 Regulation 4(4)a and (4)b, the Employer has a responsibility to ensure that all entitled Operators are adequately trained to perform the tasks within their defined scope of practice and, similarly, Operators should not carry out a medical exposure or any practical aspect without having been adequately trained (Regulation 11(1)).  The Employer must specify the scope of practice and the tasks for which an individual can act as an Operator and be able to demonstrate that he/she is adequately trained.

Persons entitled to act as an Operator must have undergone training in those subjects in Schedule 2 of IR(ME)R which are relevant to their functions and area of practice.  The Society and College of Radiographers recognises that the education programmes for assistant practitioners that it approves and/or the SCoR accreditation process address the requirements of Schedule 2 of IR(ME)R. Hence, these may be used as the benchmark by which the Employer defines ‘adequate training’ as an individual moves from being a trainee to qualified and accredited assistant practitioner. Additional local training will be required for new equipment or modalities.

While undergoing training, the requirements of Schedule 2 are unlikely to be fully met prior to qualification and in these cases Regulation 11(3) of IR(ME)R is relevant, where supervision still applies. Trainee assistant practitioners should be directly supervised by a radiographer whilst in the clinical environment. The supervising radiographer will be responsible for the practical aspects carried out by the trainee and therefore is the “Operator” for that medical exposure.

It should be noted, however, that for trainee assistant practitioners, education providers and clinical services managers are advised that the College of Radiographers considers it inappropriate for Employers to entitle them as an “Operator” to act in their own right.

If an Employer is satisfied that evidence of assessment and an up-to-date training record of the assistant is held by the relevant clinical imaging or radiotherapy services department, it is possible for a trainee assistant practitioner to be deemed competent in a specific task and entitled as an Operator within a very limited scope of practice.

If an Employer entitles a trainee assistant practitioner to act as an “Operator”, there must be a robust local entitlement process within the clinical department which satisfies the relevant sections of Schedule 2. As part of the entitlement process, the necessary information surrounding the individual’s scope of practice, the theoretical and practical training given as well as an assessment of competence must be clearly documented in the individual’s training record in line with the IR(ME)R Employer’s Procedures.

Once an Employer has entitled a trainee as an Operator, that employer assumes responsibility for ensuring that adequate and up-to-date local training of the entitled Operator is delivered and recorded and is consistent with the tasks the individual is entitled to carry out. It is the Employer’s responsibility to maintain documented and up-to-date evidence of adequate training for all entitled IR(ME)R duty holders including all assistant practitioners and trainees that the Employer decides to entitle as Operators.


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