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Executive Summary

In May and June 2014, the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) surveyed ultrasound departments in the UK. The aim of the survey was to obtain data on the number of sonographers employed and the number of vacancies. Nearly sixty ultrasound departments responded to an online questionnaire covering a range of questions about staffing and vacancy levels. This report presents the results of this survey and the following bullet points highlight the main findings.

  • The departments responding to the survey have an average of 8.6 whole time equivalent (WTE) sonographer establishment posts per department.
  • The sonographer vacancy rate across the responding departments is 18.1%. This compares to a vacancy rate of 10.9% in the 2011 survey. The main reason for the shortage is an inability to recruit suitable applicants.
  • The sonographer absence rate across the responding departments is 9.0%. The main reason for absence is paternity or maternity leave.
  • Around two-thirds of sonographers (65%) in the responding departments work part time.
  • A third of sonographers in post in the responding departments are over 50 years of age.
  • A total of 49 trainee sonographers are due to qualify in the next 12 months across the 57 departments who responded to this question.
  • 14 responding departments (25% of those who responded to this question) have sonographers working who are not registered with a statutory regulatory body (Health and Care Professions Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council). They employ 25 staff in total (headcount) who are not registered with a statutory regulatory body.
  • Of those departments (42) who only have sonographers working who are registered with a statutory regulatory body, 90% say their organisation insists their sonographers hold statutory registration.
  • 17 responding departments (30%) employ agency or locum sonographers regularly (on more than ten days per month).
  • In 36 responding departments (65%) sonographers work additional hours on at least one day a month to meet demand.
  • 33 responding departments (59%) provide extended working outside normal office hours.
  • 10 departments (18% of those responding to this question) have sonographers working who are not UK citizens.
  • 16 departments (33% of those responding to this question) undertake work under the Any Qualified Provider (AQP) provision in England.
  • Respondents were asked to comments on sonographer recruitment and retention or sonographer workforce issues in general. Difficulty recruiting was raised as the most frequent issue, with increased training and improvements in pay mentioned as potential solutions.

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