Radiographer Mitchell Hickman has presented research to a major international audience, addressing the ESTRO (European Society of Radiotherapy and Oncology) conference.
Mitch manages the head and neck pathway for radiotherapy patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. He is involved in reviewing and managing toxicities and wellbeing during treatment. For over a year, he has been conducting an audit based around mucositis, which is a side effect of radiotherapy to the head and neck. It is very debilitating, causing painful, thick secretions and can affect the patient’s quality of life.
“The purpose of the audit was to compare clinician and patient assessment of the severity of mucositis and to improve patient care and increase patient involvement in their care," Mitch says.
"We performed the audit throughout treatment and then at follow-up until the patient reported that the severity of their side effects had lessened.”
Mitch recently had training to become a non-medical independent prescriber and he can now prescribe any medication within his scope of practice. He is one of only a few therapeutic radiographers qualified to do so. He says it has enhanced the service he is able to provide to all head and neck patients.
“With the support of the head and neck team, I set up my own radiographer-led clinic, where I’m an independent prescriber. These prescribing rights have really helped patients’ access to medications.
“The legislation used to be that radiographers had to be supplementary prescribers. Then the legislation changed for therapeutic radiographers, which means we can work independently within our scope of practice.”