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Radiographer reporting: For the many, not just the few?

14 March, 2018
Nick Woznitza
Nick Woznitza

Reporting Radiographers have been supporting imaging departments in England for over 25 years, creating additional diagnostic capacity, reducing turnaround times and improving patient outcomes. But is it universally embraced outside of England? Research suggests uptake of radiographer reporting in other countries is patchy and polarised. 

A recent study evening hosted by InHealth Radiographer Reporting and supported by both the SCoR and BIR, sought to examine the situation in more detail. Reporting experts from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Norway gathered to present the latest picture of how far radiographer reporting had been adopted in their countries, and the impact it was having. 

The evening was chaired by AHP of the Year for 2017, Dr Nick Woznitza, Consultant Practitioner and Clinical Academic Reporting Radiographer at Homerton University Hospital and Canterbury Christ Church University, and for the first time was broadcast online to over 300 participants. 

Also in attendance was Dr Jonathan McNulty, newly elected president of the European Federation of Radiographer Societies (EFRS) and Charlotte Beardmore, Director of Professional Policy for the SCoR and Vice-President of EFRS. Jonathan provided an overview of the EFRS and its role in supporting the development of radiography education across Europe. Charlotte presented an update on the progress of the jointly supported teamworking document between the SCoR and the RCR due to be published later this year.

Gareth Thomas, President of the SoR, then provided an overview of the situation in Wales, where reporting radiographers are increasingly picking up the extra reporting that is created by a shortage of consultant radiologists, particularly in breast imaging. Wales is adopting newer working models, including diagnostic hubs and a radiographer-led triage system.

Dr Jonathan McConnell from NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde presented the situation in Scotland where a historical reluctance of radiologists to accept input from radiographers has been challenged with the introduction of a National AHP Delivery Plan. AHPs are now engaged more proactively, with reporting radiographers reducing backlogs, especially in plain film. Whilst radiographer reporting has increased under a national framework, it is constrained by the limited scope of practice, radiographers only report on MSK trauma cases and rates of auto-reporting can be as high as 35 per cent.

Grainne Forsythe from the Southern Trust in Northern Ireland said radiographer reporting has increased nearly threefold in the last five years. Once again there was limited expansion in the scope of practice beyond reporting in trauma, despite a significant shortfall in radiologists. Grainne advocated a winning formula for radiographer reporting constituting investment in training and qualifications by both radiographers and trusts, combined with the protection of radiographer reporting sessions, including regular discrepancy meetings and audit. 

Hakon Hjemly from the Norwegian Society of Radiographers talked about the progress made by reporting radiographers in Scandinavia, where the increasing need for diagnostic examinations and shorter cancer waiting time targets means radiographers are making more decisions regarding justification and clinical follow-up. A recent study by the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research & Education proposes increased transfer of responsibilities from radiologist to radiographer and increased education for both.

Finally, Dr Kath Halliday from Nottingham University Hospitals, GIRFT Imaging Clinical Lead and consultant radiologist, gave an overview of the GIRFT initiative, which is intended to address unwarranted variations in clinical practice. Her ongoing work will look at the way conditions are handled in different hospitals, and the number of diagnostic scans in each case. Kath passionately believes that by focussing on the quality of imaging procedures and patient care, efficiency and savings will follow.

Speaking after the event, Fodi Kyriakos, Head of Radiographer Reporting for InHealth, said: “It is so important to continue raising the awareness of the challenges faced as well as the developments being made in radiographer reporting in the UK and across Europe.

"Equally, it was fantastic to have reached out to so many people which clearly demonstrates the relevance of this key topic within radiology.”

Thie study event can be viewed online and contribute to your CPD portfolio. 

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