What will be required of tomorrow’s radiography practitioners?

Published: 26 June 2018 Ezine

A lively panel discussion at the end of the presentations considered visions of the future workforce but also covered a variety of topics including the increasing workload; concerns about capacity and resources; apprenticeships; and the changing structure of radiology departments.

Panel speakers included Dr Tim Taylor, Medical Director EMRAD; Karen Stalbow, Head of Policy, Knowledge and Impact, Prostate Cancer UK; Rebecca Steele, Radiology General Manager UCLH; Clinton Heseltine, Chief Radiographer/Radiology Services Manager, NHS Lothian; and Derek Stewart, OBE, Patient Advocate, NIHR, who presented their visions of the future workforce and then participated in a wide ranging discussion with delegates. 

Key points raised

  • Radiology managers are key to successful role development within the workforce 
  • Leadership will be the key
  • Stronger links are needed between trusts and HEIs to develop staff in a structured programme
  • Collective approach needed to create standardised systems countrywide.
  • We should mix skills for the right reasons and not just because the system is constrained
  • Innovation and new ways of working are vital to achieve the maximum benefit for the patient
  • We should consistently share best practice
  • Remain versatile and adaptable, but be more ambitious.

Rounding up the discussions, Tim Taylor said: “This is a fantastic job and that is why people choose it and stay in it. People are doing amazing things in a constrained environment and delivering gold standard, whole patient care.”

Other speakers agreed and suggested that radiographers have to further develop a culture of learning and taking charge of things rather than waiting to be told what to do.

”Our responsibility is to drive change – but it is also our responsibility to know why we are doing it – change must be evidence-based and collaborative,” said Clinton Heseltine.


A skill mix seems to excite strong feelings among people and in our hospital we work pretty well together. It’s important to understand that we are different but we have to work together even if we don’t get on all the time; we don’t have to be friends but we do have to get along.

Dr Tim Taylor, Medical Director EMRAD


Imaging is vital to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and the likely treatment and cure. We are now approaching a new era of very complex imaging and diagnostic techniques and I suggest that the diagnostic radiographers of the future will be critical to this. They will have a fundamental role to play in the complex imaging environment; we can’t just rely on the equipment however advanced and sophisticated.

Karen Stalbow, Head of Policy, Knowledge and Impact, Prostate Cancer UK


Why do we need change? Increasing demand, not enough staff, earlier diagnosis, advances in radiology, role development, patient expectations, cancer improvement task force expectations, AI, apprenticeships. What will the consultant radiologist look like in 2023? We are also going to need a robust development strategy for our support staff. I see a collaborative solution with radiologists – an integrated workforce.

Rebecca Steele, Radiology General Manager UCLH.


We are going to need apprentices to replace the ageing workforce and to address increasing demand. The challenges also include advances in technology, the place AI will fill in radiology, and it is vital to continue to innovate and research. Extending the scope of advanced practitioners and expanding the scope of sonographers is key, despite resistance to change from some sectors including the RCR.

Clinton Heseltine, Chief Radiographer / Radiology Services Manager, NHS Lothian.


“All the things that I’ve done since I was diagnosed with cancer is because you’ve saved my life – it’s as simple as that. Research is key – keep having those conversations. Networking with each other and talking; that’s what improves patient outcomes.

Derek Stewart, OBE, Patient Advocate, NIHR.