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7. Methods of data collection

7.1 Stage 1

7.1.1 Quantitative data were  gathered using Survey Monkey™. The survey was sent to radiotherapy service managers (RSMs) in all cancer centres in the UK during February 2015 (N = 72). The number is made up of 64 National Health Service (NHS) facilities across 68 sites and 8 non-NHS facilities. Reminders were sent on two occasions and, due to queries about the way in which some of the data had been annotated in Survey Monkey™, follow-up telephone calls were also made to five individuals.

7.1.2 The survey comprised 14 questions covering the volume of work associated with prostate cancer, treatments offered, the number and scope of the specialist radiographer workforce and future plans for development of additional roles. Managers were also asked to provide any relevant job descriptions. 

7.1.3 All Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that offer radiography programmes at pre-registration level were contacted during April 2015 to request information about existing postgraduate provision to support the education and development of the prostate/urology specialist workforce (N = 36).  A copy of the questionnaire is at Appendix 1. 

7.2 Stage 2 

7.2.1 Qualitative data were gained through a series of facilitated workshops. These were facilitated by an independent education and management consultant together with the project lead and another SCoR professional officer. 

7.2.2 Potential workshop participants were identified in two ways: firstly, a group email was sent to all RSMs requesting the names of prostate/urology specialist radiographers and followed up at their annual national meeting. Secondly, post holders were identified through existing SCoR networks. 

7.2.3 Two dedicated facilitated workshops for prostate/urology specialist radiographers, and other significant practitioners identified through the survey, were held during March 2015. To maximise participation, one was in London and one in Manchester. In addition, a slot was included at a regular meeting of the radiotherapy information, support and review forum in March for a facilitated discussion of the workshop topics.

7.2.4 The workshop topics were pre-identified by the project team. The intention was to obtain practitioners’ views about their role in the care and treatment offered to men with prostate cancer, using the domains of advanced/consultant practice. The nature and scope of the specialist role was explored under the following headings; key relationships including service users, barriers to change, the scope of practice and service development, education and training, and opportunities for research. The chance was also taken to identify particular expertise and resources that might contribute to a sustainable online forum. At the end, existing prostate/urology specialists were asked for their thoughts about what the service would lose if their role did not exist. 

7.3 Stage 3

Following preliminary qualitative analysis of the workshop data, a dissemination conference was organised in June 2015 for practitioners, service managers and others. The programme included sharing the initial key findings from the project together with perspectives from a specialist practitioner, a service manager and a clinical oncologist. Case studies were presented by a service user and specialist practitioners. The event concluded with a sharing of the project outcomes to date and a discussion about future directions for the service and the role and contribution of the specialist radiographer workforce.  

Case Study 1 – Andrew Styling

I am a Urology Advanced Practitioner Radiographer who qualified in 1998 and gained my MSc in Radiotherapy and Oncology in 2009. In September 2011 I began the process of succeeding my predecessor in the role of the advanced practitioner.  From this point to February 2012, the reins were carefully handed over.   

I came into the role with an MSc.  However, there were still several aspects of academic grounding that needed to be attained.  From September 2011 to May 2012, I completed a 30 credit Expert Practice module, addressing on-treatment review and consent.  Good clinical practice (GCP) and advanced communication skills training were also completed during this time.  My first on-treatment review clinic started in July 2012.

What do I do currently?

  • Co-ordinate prostate brachytherapy and  can consent by delegation.  I also have a radiographer-led clinic
  • Run an SOS service, office-based
  • Run two on-treatment review clinics
  • Develop Patient Group Directions
  • Follow-up patient reviews
  • Hold the bleep  for the Radiotherapy Department
  • Am a trainer and expert resource in  Bladder Carbogen Nicotinamide (BCON)
  • Am an expert resource member of an MDT
  • Facilitate research/audit/service development

What do I believe that I achieve?

  • Improved patient experience
  • Improved access to health care professionals
  • A reduction in hospital attendances for patients with post-radiotherapy complications
  • Improved implementation of innovative technologies
  • Greater consistency with respect to patients and staff
  • Improvement in meeting cancer targets, driving efficiency through better co-ordination of the pathway

I am proud of what I have achieved so far. The role is fulfilling, dynamic and continues to evolve. My next project is to introduce radiographer-led gold fiducial marker insertion.  Essential to developing this role is collaboration and the sharing of best practice across our profession, nationally. However, in developing specialist skill sets, excellent patient care must remain the focus.


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