An exploratory MSc research project has led to advanced practitioner radiographers delivering biopsy results to breast screening patients - work traditionally undertaken by consultant breast radiologists.
The research highlighted challenges and important enabling factors, while establishing that this extension to the role is very much within the radiography scope of practice.
The findings have now been published in the British Journal of Radiology and supported by Health Education England.
The research was conducted by Joleen Kirsty Eden, consultant radiographer in the Breast Imaging Unit at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
She said: ‘To our knowledge, no other breast unit encourages radiographers to deliver benign and malignant results, therefore, we may be the first to form fully radiographer led clinics.
‘I am very grateful and fortunate to work in a wonderful unit which pushes the development of radiographers with immense support from our breast radiologists and breast care nurses. I feel strongly that this service improvement is something which may benefit other breast screening units, which like all of us, continue to struggle with workforce issues.’
The original idea was proposed by fellow consultant radiographer Rita Borgen (pictured). Service implementation began in May 2019, with notably improved efficiency of clinics, and less waiting time for the patients. Additionally, radiographers have developed advanced communication skills and an intrinsic understanding of patient management.
The team continues to successfully deliver breast screening results using a fully radiographer led service. Inclusivity within the team has continued to grow, and has ultimately evolved advanced practice benefiting both patients and the radiography profession.
Joleen added: ‘Successful implementation would not have been possible without the dedication and professionalism of these outstanding radiographers who have come to show that opportunities within their field may be defined but are not without possibility.’