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1. Background and Nature of the Research

1.1 Introduction

This research was carried out by the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) in March and April 2012 to identify the current scope of practice for the radiographic workforce across the spectrum of clinical imaging and radiotherapy in the United Kingdom (UK). It is intended to update the Scope of Practice 2008 report2. The research covers radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging practice in the National Health Service (NHS) and independent/private sectors.

1.2 Background

The Scope of Practice 2008 report stated that the scope of practice for the diagnostic radiographic workforce in the acute sector was diverse and expanding. It identified many examples of emerging new roles undertaken by radiographers: significant numbers were performing interventional procedures and specialist gastrointestinal studies; many radiographers were reporting independently of radiologists, especially in ultrasound where numbers exceed 80%; and almost all diagnostic radiographers were involved in audit. The report’s authors identified that the greatest driver for implementation of new roles was service demand and that radiologists’ resistance, although generally subsiding, continued to be an inhibitor. There was evidence that the career progression framework was being adopted but not by all employers.

The scope of practice for the therapeutic radiographic workforce was also expanding. There were examples of radiographer involvement in pre-treatment simulation leading to autonomous planning and treatment prescribing by radiographers. Developments in specialist brachytherapy were reported from nine radiotherapy centres. Radiographers were staffing on-treatment reviews in 21 centres and in 10 centres were involved in patient follow up clinics. Nearly two thirds of centres had research radiographers and in 14 centres there was radiographer led research. New roles were emerging in more holistic aspects of patient management including palliative care and counselling. Over half of all centres had advanced practitioners and consultant radiographers were employed in three centres.

The report authors concluded that the scope of practice for UK radiographers was broad and continuing to expand. They highlighted the importance of further implementation of the career progression framework and the need for more radiographer-led clinical research to improve patient outcomes and strengthen the profession.

1.3 Aims of the research

The aims of the work undertaken and reported here were to:

  • Quantify the different roles undertaken by the radiography workforce within clinical practice.
  • Identify role developments which have occurred within the profession over the past 4 years (since the publication of the Scope of Practice 2008 report).

This work will inform a revised Learning and Development Framework by the College of Radiographers.


2 Scope of Radiographic Practice (2008) University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with the Institute for Employment Studies for the Society and College of Radiographers

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