Section menu

You are here

Covid-19: Returners to practice; retired radiographers; registered radiographers in other work areas; and volunteers

Version 4. Updated 30 March 2020.

This information is for radiographers and former radiographers enquiring about supporting services during Covid-19 and who are:

1. The Temporary Register and professional indemnity cover (added 30 March 2020)

- How the temporary register will work
- Protection and expectation for those on the Temporary Register
- Pay and pension
Pension protection

2. Former registrants or retired registrants 3 years or more off the register (added 23 March 2020)

3. Radiographers working in other sectors/roles and still registered (added 23 March 2020)

4. AHP volunteers (added 30 March 2020)

First and foremost, thank you for offering your support, please read the information below to see where and how you might be able to help.

The need of local employers is likely to change over time; the advice and guidance given now may be updated as time goes on. Please refer regularly to this page for updated information. 

The Temporary Register and professional indemnity cover (added 30 March 2020)

The following advice draws from the government and NHS Employers’ advice and guidance associated with the Coronavirus Act, and in particular measures to facilitate a temporary register for final year students and those returning to practice and the HCPC advice in this regard (see)

The advice aims to:

  • Explain to members how the Temporary Register will work
  • Update and reassure members about the indemnity cover available from government
  • Update and reassure members about how the SoR professional indemnity cover will operate, and temporary adjustments to the qualifying criteria for student and retired members joining the Temporary Register.
  • Signpost people to where someone from the SoR can help them with any more detailed questions or concerns in relation to this coverage, or if they have professional concerns during this current period.

How the temporary register will work

It is now clear that all people who have chosen to leave the HCPC professional register in the last three years will automatically be entered onto a temporary public register. The Register will therefore show who could be available to practice under the terms of the temporary licence.

Students could be included in this. This was the Government and HCPC’s plan until concerns from AHP unions and others has prompted a suspension until at least Tuesday, 31 March.

No-one who is or was subject to a fitness to practice order in the past will be included on the Temporary Register.

Accordingly, there is no registration fee for joining the Temporary Register.

The Temporary Register is only intended to be in place for the period of the Covid-19 crisis and is incorporated into the Coronavirus Act, which is itself time limited and subject to periodic review. This means that if someone returns to practice on the Temporary Register they will be expected to fully re-register to continue practicing once the crisis is deemed to have ended.

Any complaints raised with the HCPC about the practice of someone on the Temporary Register will lead to that person being immediately removed from the Temporary Register. There will be no investigation or appeal. This would mean that there is no longer term impact on their ability to join the full register, either for students joining the scheme or for returning practitioners, once the Covid-19 crisis has passed. However, SoR members facing a removal that they think is unfair or unjustified could raise a grievance or complaint with their employer. Before doing so they’d be advised to contact the SoR for advice. We could challenge employers about the validity of such a referral where this is justified by the evidence.

Most people on the Temporary Register are not expected to be covering a complicated or complex set of duties and it is expected that they will be employed on the AfC Band 5 as a minimum. However, if someone returning is doing the same role they were doing before then they should be paid at their former salary level.

There are pension breaks in the Act to cover people returning (see more detail below).

Protection and expectation for those on the Temporary Register

The professional risks for those returning, such as for final year students, or for others carrying out new or different work, are recognised in the government’s advice, the Act and by the HCPC. They all stress that it will be the responsibility of local leaders to deploy people safely.

Temporary registrants will be expected to follow the core principles of professional practice, with the HCPC especially emphasising an expectation they:

  • Take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to service users, carers and colleagues as far as possible
  • Not do anything, or allow someone else to do anything, which could put the health or safety of a service user, carer or colleague at unacceptable risk, and
  • Make changes to how they practice, or stop practicing, if their physical or mental health may affect their performance or judgement, or put others at risk for any other reason.

The government stresses that the usual professional indemnity insurance will cover everyone working in the NHS, who will be deemed to be employed to facilitate this, ie they will be indemnified by the employer’s vicarious liability policy. In addition, anyone currently engaged outside the NHS who joins the Temporary Register will be covered by the NHS cover. The professional indemnity cover offered by the Society of Radiographers as a member benefit will support this. If you are working outside of an employment contract, then the position is as it is now: you will need your own primary professional indemnity insurance

Additionally, the government has provided assurances that it will provide indemnity for clinical negligence liabilities arising from NHS activities carried out for the purposes of dealing with, or because of, the coronavirus outbreak, where there is no existing indemnity arrangement in place. This will ensure that those providing healthcare service activity across the UK are legally protected for the work they are required to undertake as part of the Covid-19 response. This is in line with and will complement existing arrangements. This kind of government underwritten guarantee is rare and has apparently been included in the Act to emphasise that government will stand by healthcare workers during the crisis.

The SoR welcomes this balanced approach in the circumstances: affording protection for staff who want to say 'no' to doing something they do not feel it is safe for them to do, whilst offering the flexibility necessary to support people happy to do a wider range of tasks under appropriate professional supervision and direction.

However, the SoR naturally is also concerned that this system is untested. Therefore, we will extend full membership to all SoR members on the Temporary Register - even if members are technically retired members (or potentially students), at no extra cost. This also means that returnees can re-join the SoR as retired members at this present time. If the scheme is extended to third year students they will continue to receive six months' free full membership if they become active on the Temporary Register (see more details in our advice to students which will be published after the HCPC have decided if students are to be included on the Temporary Register).

Full membership will entitle these members to access the Society’s professional indemnity policy, provided they meet the conditions outlined above

To secure these benefits members will need to tell the SoR when they have joined the Register and started work.

Pay and pension

All existing staff should continue to be paid as normal. As would be the case in other times where someone was asked to work differently, or do additional work to cover someone at a lower grade,all pay should be at their full normal rate.

Temporary Registrants will expect to be paid at Band 5, as stated above.

Volunteers doing other work supporting the NHS or Health and social care can gain access to Emergency Volunteer Leave, which is facilitated in the Bill, and claim statutory unpaid leave. In addition, the government is working on guidance so that volunteers can fully recover any lost earnings and expenses. More details will emerge as this plan is finalised but government is in consultation with unions across health and social care, and the TUC.

Such volunteers will also “only be placed on volunteering activities where appropriate indemnity arrangements are in place”. Full details of how this will work have not yet been developed and published. However, the SoR believe that local leaders will be expected to be responsible for assessing what is safe and maintaining this requirement. This would mean that were something to happen, and it was considered the volunteer was operating beyond what would have been deemed appropriate, the manager would be responsible and the indemnity would likely cover them, except where the volunteer had consciously acted beyond their instructions and capacity.

ALL MEMBERS ARE REMINDED THAT, ESPECIALLY AT A TIME LIKE THIS, THE SoR OFFERS EXCEPTIONAL SUPPORT AND ADVICE ON PROFESSIONAL ISSUES, HCPC REFERRALS AND PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE

Any member who ever feels they may be at risk of being referred to the HCPC should make contacting the SoR their first priority before responding in any other way. Covid-19 doesn’t change that in any way. 

Pension protection

If students are incorporated into the scheme and become active, they  should be entitled to be auto-enrolled in the NHS pension scheme, although this hasn’t as yet been specifically mentioned in government or NHS Employers’ advice and guidance.

Returnees who may be in receipt of their NHS pension will have restrictions and penalties built into the NHS Pension scheme lifted to encourage them to return. This includes:

  • Removal of the 16-hour working cap before their pension is reduced
  • Suspension of the abatement for Special Class Status Pensioners. These are those who have accessed protections to retire before 60 but who could only keep earnings from their salary and pension up to the value of their previous earnings. This means that people in this position becoming active on the Temporary Register will be able to continue to access their full normal pension and their full salary even if this exceeds their previous earnings.

The SoR welcomes these initiatives as sensible and recognises the need to incentivise and reward staff to come back to work in a time of crisis. However, we will be looking closely at what happens after the crisis ends. Given that there was a massive recruitment and retention challenge across the NHS already in more normal times, if these incentives work there would be an argument to carry on paying these to retain this incentive should people wish to continue to support an overstretched service. However, this would have wider implications across the pension debate.

Back to top ↑

Former registrants or retired registrants 3 years or more off the register (added 23 March 2020)

Example queries:

  • Retired sonographer would like to do her bit
  • I’ve been out of radiography for 5ish years but would like to do my bit. Can I fast track back?
  • I retired when I was 67, so five years ago
  • I worked as a healthcare support worker and then a radiographer between 2004 and 2010.  I qualified as a radiographer in 2007, and was registered with the SoR in 2007/8. I then worked in France as a radiographer until 2010.  Please advise me:
    - Whether a similar request has been made or is anticipated for radiographers
    - How I should register my interest in volunteering or working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis
    - What provision is being made regarding professional indemnity insurance for returnees

Those who have been of the register more than three years will not be able to practice as radiographers without completing the HCPC standard return to practice process to regain their registration.

HCPC returning to practice information and SoR guidance.

You may want to consider this option should the staff crisis be prolonged.

Alternatively, you can return in a volunteer role, or even as paid staff using your skills and knowledge to release a radiographer into a more critical role. NHS Employers have written some useful information specifically relating to volunteer workers.

You should contact your local employer either through their volunteer department, HR Department or directly to the clinical service manager. It is worth checking an organisation’s website to see if they have a ‘Covid hub’ as there may be a direct link for retired professionals to make contact.

Back to top ↑

Radiographers working in other sectors/roles and still registered (Added 23 March 2020)

  • Currently working as radiographer at a vets for past 2 years, can I go back to NHS and help?
  • Radiographer working in industry but want to help
  • Registered radiographer and member of the SoR who has worked in the private sector for the last 15 years on a very part time basis. I was retired from the NHS in 2000. I want to do my bit to help the NHS

If you are already employed full-time, you will need to speak to your current employer regarding being released for other duties. You must clarify and understand the terms of your employment contract for both your current employer and your prospective employer. The SCoR TUIR department may be able to assist with specific queries.

For those in receipt of an NHS ill-health retirement pension, you should enquire either with NHS Pensions, or with the NHS pensions department at your proposed employer, to make sure any work you do, paid or voluntary, does not have an impact on your retirement arrangements.

The same information as we have shared with those being asked to work in other roles will apply to you as you move in to support services. You will need to take account of any additional training needs and professional practice considerations.

You should contact your local employer either through their volunteer department, HR department, or directly to the clinical service manager. It is worth checking an organisation’s website to see if they have a ‘Covid hub’ as there may be a direct link for retired professionals to make contact.

Back to top ↑

AHP volunteers (added 30 March 2020)

The following is from Public Health England. Points 1, 5 and 6 apply to England only.

  1. If individuals are seeking to offer their time, for free, to the NHS then they should go through the goodsam app (there is 750k volunteer target and when that is reached applications will be stopped). 
  2. If a clinician who has left the register in the past three years and wishes to return to clinical practice, or to support the telephone 111 service, they should go through HCPC
  3. If you are a clinician currently on the register, but not employed by the NHS, click here.
  4. If you are a final year student on the HCPC temporary register, you should register your interest on this site.   
  5. If you represent a public body wishing to make your clinical staff available to the NHS, then you should contact Andrew Foster.  
  6. If you are a private organisation with an offer of assistance or support for the NHS, contact Ed Jones.           
  7. In addition to the above, if you have previously worked in the NHS, it is good to make yourself available by contacting local NHS employers.

Professional indemnity insurance

The employer provides the primary public liability insurance and should have something in place for their volunteers. You should check this before you start work. Those of you who are SoR members will benefit from our PII as long as you meet the criteria.

We will provide updates on our website as soon as is possible and in response to publication of new guidance.

As the situation is ever-evolving, it is important to follow the changing local and government advice. 

DBS and ID checking guidelines

The government has made temporary changes to guidelines for DBS and identification checks.

The change should only be implemented for urgent cases where it is not possible to follow the normal identity checking guidelines. 

Back to top ↑

Content tools

Accessibility controls

Text size

AA A

Colour