The Society often receives enquiries from sonographer members as to whether they need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) if they are solely performing ultrasound examinations.
The sonographer will often have trained originally as a radiographer, but this guidance is also relevant to those members who trained in other professions, for example, as a nurse or midwife and are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The SoR expects those members who are able to register with the HCPC, or other regulatory body such as the NMC, to do so. It accepts, however, that ‘sonographer’ is not yet a statutorily regulated protected title and that statutory registration is impossible for some sonographers to achieve. This may be due to their original professional background, or the fact that they were direct entrants to sonography training either overseas or in the UK.
The rationale for recommending maintaining statutory regulation is as follows:
- Registration provides added protection to the public. Registrants must meet the published standards, abide by a code of conduct and ethics and participate in personal continuing professional development.
- Many employers require sonographers to be registered if it is possible for them to be so and maintaining registration is often written into employment contracts.
- If a sonographer allows their registration to lapse and they later need to re-register (for example, if they move employers and the new employer requires registration) they will have to follow the procedures set out by the HCPC or other relevant regulatory body to achieve this.
- Sonographers who are registered healthcare professionals* e.g. registered nurses and radiographers can, if entitled by their employer to do so, refer patients directly for examinations such as CT scanning or other investigations using ionising radiation.
- Patients have better access to the medicines they need when seen by a registered sonographer. Certain groups of registered health care professionals have legal rights to train to prescribe, supply and administer medicines to their patients (HCPC, 2021; Specialist Pharmacy Service, 2018). Non-statutory registered sonographers are limited to administering medicines using a patient specific direction generated by an authorised prescriber.
- Many other groups aspire to achieve statutory regulation as recognition of their professionalism as well as to further protect the public, but have had this refused. Sonographers who hold a registerable qualification have already achieved this recognition and should carefully consider whether it is in their best interests to allow it to lapse.
- Advanced and consultant levels of practice are likely to require statutory registration in the future
The Society of Radiographers will continue to support the case for the statutory registration of sonographers, as has been its policy for many years.
Further information can be found in the following document: 'Sonographers: HCPC renewal FAQs'.
* A “registered health care professional” is a person who is a member of a profession regulated by a body mentioned in section 25(3) of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002” https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/1322/regulation/2/made