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13. Project Conclusions and Emerging Themes

13.1 This project has demonstrated that prostate/urology specialist roles are reliably in place in eighteen (18) cancer centres, mostly in England, and their numbers are increasing. The majority of posts have been created out of the existing radiographic establishment. The role is not yet sustainably embedded and might best be described as emerging.  Practitioners’ core functions are generally similar but there are differences which can probably be attributed to the isolated way in which they have developed. Most of the domains of advanced and consultant practice are represented but under-developed; there is a lack of consistency about what the role should be and no robust sense of identity or professional ownership of the role. 

13.2 These early implementers of prostate/urology specialist radiographer roles have provided valuable insights into the role that should be taken forward in the development of a consistent, standardised, specialist key worker role to optimise radiotherapy and support for men with prostate cancer. 

13.3 Particular themes highlighted by the project are:

  • the need to address sustainability;
  • the need for a more consistent understanding of the core functions of the role;
  • a lack of clarity about the limits of the role ie where it should begin and end;
  • the expressed ambivalence about the value of professional supervision;
  • the need for support for relevant education and skills development, especially prescribing;
  • a lack of engagement with research both in relation to the role and to radiotherapy practice.

13.4 Specifically, it is recommended that the following issues are prioritised by relevant stakeholders:

Workforce planning and service development

  • Job descriptions that are clearly defined and include arrangements for cover for sickness and leave, and professional supervision together with job plans
  • Development of a model role descriptor to support service managers 
  • Membership of prostate site-specific MDT for all practitioners
  • Advice and support for business case development, including sustainability and succession planning.

Education and training

  • Independent prescribing as the gold standard for prostate/urology specialist radiographers
  • Publication of flexible postgraduate education and training opportunities, widely available in order to support development of full professional autonomy
  • Professional accreditation of advanced and consultant practitioners.

Development of the research and evidence base 

  • Rigorous evaluation of the impact of the role
  • Promotion of relevant research opportunities. 

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