Time to celebrate the work of sonographers - and design a poster!

SCoR professional officer for ultrasound Gill Harrison introduces this year’s Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month (#MUAM)

Published: 30 September 2021 Ultrasound

Last year, when writing the introduction to Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month (#MUAM), I really hadn’t anticipated that  the world would still be in a difficult place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, sonographers have again stepped up to the challenge, despite working under extreme pressure, to continue to provide an ongoing service. They have worked tirelessly to deal with the backlog of cases caused by earlier lockdowns, reduced outpatient services and delays in some patients seeking medical advice.

During this period, sonographers and other healthcare professionals have sadly been subjected to added pressures, including aggression, abuse and social media trolling. The Society of Radiographers recommends that all cases of such abuse be reported at trust/health board level to help highlight the extent of the problem and inform discussions with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

I have spoken to advocacy groups, parents and sonographers and it is clear that the majority of patients are extremely grateful for the hard work and expertise of our highly skilled sonographic workforce.

This year for #MUAM we want to celebrate the positive achievements of sonographers. We also want to highlight the work of our Ultrasound Advisory Group (UAG), which gives its time to supporting sonography developments and advising the SoR on all matters relating to ultrasound practice.

Having changed the terms of reference for the advisory groups, we now have 15 sonographer members representing you on the UAG. And we recently recruited eight new members. They will work with the existing UAG members and Catriona Hynes, chair of the group, to develop a work plan and assign leads and team members to work on projects on behalf of the SoR.

Current and past UAG members also represent the SoR at external meetings, including task and finish projects with Public Health England or ongoing work with the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme. We are extremely grateful for members’ input and support.

This year has seen a lot of work linked to sonography:

  • Following the 2019 Professional Standards Authority (PSA) report, the SoR-administered  Public Voluntary Register of Sonographers (PVRS) transferred to the PSA- accredited Register of Clinical Technologists at the end of February 2021. This was in accordance with UK Council policy and followed the recommendations of the 2019 PSA report to Health Education England on sonographer regulation. Q&As relating to the transfer of the PVRS are available explaining the rationale for the move. This transition was supported by SoR staff. SoR policy is to  continue to push for statutory registration, a move that was agreed Council policy.
  • Health Education England (HEE) provided funding for clinical ultrasound training academies (CLUSTAs), which are to increase the placement capacity for ultrasound clinical education.
  • The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education approved amendments to the funding band for sonographer (integrated degree) apprenticeships, aligning sonography with diagnostic and therapeutic radiography apprenticeships at BSc (Hons) level.
  • Work continues with HEE and other stakeholders (such as the Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education, the British Medical Ultrasound Society and The Royal College of Radiologists) to determine ways to increase sonographer numbers without affecting the quality of patient care, whilst also developing supported career pathways for existing sonographers.

Recent European surveys of national radiographer societies and sonographers, which looked at the level of report writing and role expansion, show that UK practice is pushing boundaries. HEE wants those wanting to progress in their careers to work at the ‘top of their licence’.

To do that, departments need good leadership and sonographers need time to develop their skills. The work with HEE and colleagues is hoping to address that but small changes at a local level can improve patient outcomes and job satisfaction for sonographers.

We hope sonographers will use social media and publish articles to raise awareness of the amazing work done in the UK and beyond. We all have so much to learn from each other; sharing your thoughts, practice innovations
and the small changes that have made a difference can inspire others and increase awareness of the sonographer role.

Design a patient-facing poster to highlight the role of the sonographer

The SoR is keen to showcase the sonographer role and increase the visibility of sonographers at all levels of healthcare services. We also need patients and service users to know who sonographers are and what they do. To that end, we are launching a #MUAM poster competition.

Send us your designs and the winning poster will be published in Synergy News to be displayed in departments across the UK. The designer will win a framed copy of their artwork and a bundle of wellbeing books.
Closing time and date: midnight 31 October. Email entries to [email protected]

Please note: all images must be your own or copyright free. Ensure permission/Caldicott guardian approval for the use of scan images. Websites such as www.canva.com can be used to help design posters. The decision of the judges is final.