Independent prescribing for diagnostic radiographers moves closer

The case for independent prescribing for diagnostic radiographers is to be reviewed by the Commission on Human Medicines at their December meeting.

Published: 17 November 2021 Advanced practitioners

The case for independent prescribing for diagnostic radiographers is to be reviewed by the Commission on Human Medicines at their December meeting. 

The Commission will hear support for the legal change from the SoR and its members, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) representatives and the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR).  

Independent prescribers are responsible and accountable practitioners trained to assess service users with undiagnosed or diagnosed conditions and who make decisions about management within the context of their practice.

Independent prescribers can prescribe any medicine within their scope of practice and relevant legislation on their own initiative and are developed in line with service need, follow a rigorous governance process and must achieve Health and Care Professions Council approved post-registration education standards delivered by a Higher Education Institution.

During their training, clinicians undertake a period of learning in practice (PLP) to consolidate and contextualise the academic learning delivered by the programme provider. The PLP enables the trainee to put theory into practice; to develop and demonstrate competence as a prescriber under the supervision of an experienced prescribing practitioner.

Diagnostic radiographers currently hold legal entitlement to train as supplementary prescribers following the same education and training pathway as for independent prescribing but with different legal rights on qualification.

Diagnostic radiographers are currently also legally entitled to supply and administer medicines using Patient Group Directions (PGDs). The preferred way for patients to receive medicines is for a prescriber to provide care for an individual patient on a one-to-one basis.

 Current challenges and developments in diagnostic imaging service provision are increasing pressure for change. Diagnostic radiographers will be pivotal in supporting safe access to medicines when scanning in Community Diagnostic Centres and increasingly in acute Trusts where radiologists or other medical staff are less available.

Diagnostic radiographers will make prescribing decisions, e.g. where a patient does not fit the PGD criteria or needs additional medicines as part of the imaging procedure. Diagnostic radiographers now perform many more high volume minimally invasive interventional procedures. Patients need prescribed medicines such as local anaesthesia, pain relief or contrast agents for breast biopsies, line insertions, or nephrostomy tube changes.

The SoR is working with our members, NHSEI and RCR colleagues to write the latest case for change. We want to encourage members to share examples where Independent Prescribing will make a difference for their patients.