Radiographers and industry leaders were in attendance at the The College of Radiographers Industry Partnership Scheme (CoRIPS) Seminar at the King’s Fund, London, last month to celebrate another amazing year of radiography research.
The assembled audience were treated to fascinating talks on pioneering research from recipients of CoRIPS funding and updated on the latest innovations in industry.
Richard Evans, CEO at the SCoR, welcomed CoRIPS partners and researchers, and in his introductory remarks emphasised the importance for continuing efforts into research for the future of the profession.
He also thanked industry partners for their contribution, stating that partnership and collaboration was the bedrock of success in research.
“One of the great things we have seen since launching our first research strategy is the amazing enthusiasm at grassroots level for getting involved in research.
“Of course we want to do more, that’s why we’ve got a strategy, but the reason we are able to grow one strategy into another is because we have been able to get direct support from industry,” said Richard.
“Our environment is about partnership; we partner in a clinical environment, with radiologists, clinical physicists and nurses, and it’s a partnership with industry if you own equipment or buy equipment. We all have to work together.”
The first presentation of the day came from Dr Rachel Harris, professional and education manager at the SCoR, who outlined the main principles of the recently updated College of Radiographers research strategy, the fourth strategy of its kind to be launched by the College.
The new strategy outlines the research priorities for 2015-2021.
“When I look back on the first research strategy it was one page, the current one is now 17 pages,” stated Rachel.
“Without a shadow of doubt it’s the most ambitious. It is controversial in parts, but it’s meant to be ambitious and inspiring for our profession.”
She added: “The important thing to remember about the strategy and student research is the main reason we do it is to improve our patient care and patient outcomes.”
Rachel went on to emphasise the importance of supporting budding researchers, from funding all the way through to support during the research process and up to publication.
“We have to make sure people have the skills and the opportunities, and make sure we are supporting from an early stage those students who are doing research.”
Rob Meertens, medical imaging lecturer at the University of Exeter, was next to take the podium, speaking about his research funded by the CoRIPS Doctoral Fellowship Scheme.
Rob’s PhD explores the usage of a diagnostic tool called near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) – a near infrared light which sits at a wavelength next to red light – as a means to measure haemodynamic markers of the blood supply in bone tissues.
Rob received £24,974 in funding, but pointed out that there were more benefits to the CoRIPS grant than just the money. “I want to give my thanks to the CoRIPS partners for their support in radiography research, but also for their support of my research, which has been more than about financial support for me, it’s been great for my career, so thank you.”
The second recipient of the CoRIPS Doctoral Fellowship Grant was Carolyn Costigan, principal research radiographer from Queens Medical Centre. Carolyn received £24,206 for her research on the use of MRI assessment in patients with coeliac disease, both newly diagnosed and following a gluten-free diet treatment.
Carolyn explained that her research has personal meaning: “I have a great interest in coeliac disease because I have a long family history with it, and it’s a lifelong disease of which not a lot is known,” she said.
One of the things which surprised her during her research was the value of public and patient intervention (PPI) in shaping and focusing the direction of her study.
“I was a bit dubious about PPIs, I saw them as a bit of a box-ticking exercise, but I’m absolutely converted, we had a fantastic coeliac focus group – they were really helpful,” she said.
“People who know they have coeliac disease were not the focus of the research, but it was so good to get feedback from people with the disease about what kind of research they wanted and what they thought of the literature.”
Also in attendance were recipients of CoRIPS grants, small grants designed to fund projects related to any aspect of the science and practice of radiography.
Jenna Tugwell, research radiographer from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, gave an eye-opening talk about her research into interventions to relieve patient anxiety prior to MRI examinations.
“I worked in MRI for three years and one of the most disheartening things to witness in MRI was anxiety problems with patients, early terminations of scans or patients not being able to go into the scanner at all,” she said.
Her research looks into whether a phone call from a radiographer prior to an examination to explain the ‘ins and outs’ of the scan, or sending the patients a video (which Jenna has created herself) to explain the basics, could alleviate patient anxiety.
Some of her early findings into the root causes of anxiety were particularly revealing: Some patients fed back their surprise about the noise of the scan, concerns about dignity in having to wait in their robe for the scan, as well as uncertainty over what part of their body would be scanned.
Mofolorunso Okubanjo, therapeutic radiographer and Heidi Probst, professor of radiotherapy and oncology, both from Sheffield Hallam University, followed with a presentation on their investigation into radiotherapy bladder emptying policy for bladder cancer patients and patient preferences for a self catheterisation intervention.
“When patients get referred for bladder radiotherapy, they have around 20 treatments, so in order to make sure we treat the whole of the bladder, we want to make sure we avoid treating any of the sensitive tissue surrounding it.
"So, one of the things we ask patients to do prior to every treatment is to empty their bladder.
“When you empty your bladder, however, you often end up with some residual urine, the problem with radiotherapy treatment is that amount of residual urine varies every time.”
The research aims to find out if self catheterisation could be a solution to the problem, allowing radiographers to deliver greater accuracy in radiotherapy dosage.
Ron Dearden, UK sales manager at Mirion DSD and Phoebe Sprinz, director at Jennie Reeves Agency, jointly presented on the use of the new Instadose radiation monitoring devices for locum radiographers.
“When Jennie Reeves buys a badge for their employee, they have the ability to go from hospital to hospital and see the dose before they go to the next establishment. So if there is an error or anomaly, they can say that dose was at that particular hospital and investigate quickly,” said Ron.
“Safety and welfare is the main ethos of our company. How we look after our staff is very important to us, and radiation protection is a big part of that,” added Phoebe.
Wendy Wilkinson, director of radiography services at InHealth (London & South East) gave an update on how InHealth was increasing the CPD opportunities for radiographers in the independent sector.
Wendy explained how InHealth was now trying to help staff move up the career ladder to roles such as advanced practitioners and practice educators.
“The majority of our workforce are practitioners, but what I’d like to do is help some of our practitioners move up the career ladder.
"We have a number of advanced practitioners, but we need more if we want to follow the SCoR’s new research guidelines, and I think there are a number of roles within InHealth for advanced practitioners to fill,” she said.
And last but by no means least, Andy Beavis, radiotherapy director, chief science officer and founder of Vertual presented Vert, a virtual radiotherapy treatment room developed by Vertual for training radiographers.
“You can get a 3D, fully articulated, fully functional linear accelerator in the classroom – without producing ionising radiation,” he said.
“It provides a safe and accessible environment for learning and gives students the chance to work with the latest technology in a non-pressurised environment.”