A lively panel discussion with plenty of audience participation closed the conference.
The four-person panel comprised:
The debate began with each panellist putting forward their own vision of the future of the radiography workforce.
Erika Denton told delegates that the profession would have to look at the workforce very differently, and the first thing that should be done is a revisit of the four tier structure.
“We must look at career progression – what do people want to do in their careers? As a profession, we have not been very good at facilitating career progression.
"We also need equal opportunities across the board, and to make the most of people’s skills and talents.”
Maryann Hardy continued by saying that everyone is aware that demand is increasing, referrals are increasing and changing, and that we have to do more with less.
“We must optimise the roles of radiographers and radiologists. At the moment we have a workforce that defines itself by the modality they work in or the equipment they use.
"It’s time for change and the change in student funding may be the catalyst,” she said.
“We will have to engage more with the technical modalities and this is a perfect opportunity for post-graduate role development schemes – aligning a variety of skills, rather than just training people to operate the equipment.
“If we grasp the nettle now then the opportunity to enhance the workforce is very real – if we don’t, we won’t get the workforce that we want for the future,” she warned.
Supporting Erika’s point about a wide skills mix, Andrew Carne advised delegates that radiographers should be working at the very top of their license to practice.
“Expansion of radiographer roles is one way to backfill the lack of radiologists,” he said.
“We need to consider assistant practitioner roles and whether we can raise their skill levels. Additionally, we need to look at traditional roles of radiographers – is there another way to fill that role – for example, in a theatre setting.”
He finished by adding that the variation in practice must be addressed, and that managing current workflows is going to be as important as creating new workflows.
“Collaborative working is the workforce of the future,” he stated.
“As managers, we need to define the workforce requirements to fulfil future demand,” said Simone Towie.
“Managing is a balancing act – meeting targets and managing patients; maintaining a high standard with budget challenges and commercial partnerships should not be ignored but embraced.”