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Covid-19: Pre-registration education providers and students

Version 4. Updated 26 March 2020.

Students: Message from Nichola Jamison, chair of the SoR Student Rep Forum

Nichola has made a short video about the support available to radiography students.

Education providers 

Each education provider should assess the risks and implement the appropriate strategies they deem necessary to minimise the disruption to the education of the students and to adhere to government guidance. For some, this has meant closing universities and providing online learning for their students. For others, this will mean changes to the assessment strategy and, for some, will mean postponing students’ practice placement. 

Some education providers are already sharing information, via the Heads of Radiography Education group, about what is happening locally and how they are responding. This will support and reassure those that a creative and flexible approach is important to minimise disruption, and ensure that students are not disadvantaged by circumstances outside their control. 

It is the responsibility of the education provider to ensure that learning and assessment standards are maintained and that any changes made are within the spirit of the College of Radiographers’ Education and Career Framework (2013), Scope of Practice (2013) - Pre-registration and above, and Quality Standards for Practice Placements (2012). All changes should be communicated to students in a timely manner.

Where changes would be considered a ‘major change’, we would ask that you keep us informed so that our records remain up-to-date. In these exceptional circumstances, we recognise that notification may come to the CoR after, rather than before, changes are implemented.

Some education providers and practice placements are stipulating that students must not be involved with imaging patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19. The decision (if relevant) should be communicated to students and all involved in their learning in placement.

Education providers should maintain regular communication with their students and practice placements. Consideration should be given to mental well-being of staff and students.

The College of Radiographers does not stipulate the number of clinical placement hours that must be completed. It is up to the educator providers to determine whether a student has met the learning outcomes and to be flexible as to when students are accessing their placement.

Education providers are encouraged to:

  • Follow government guidance as it emerges
  • Make judgements in the best interests of your students, staff and partner organisations
  • Use normal university systems and processes for supporting students who need to take time out due to illness, or who have extenuating circumstances
  • Use normal university systems and processes for managing delayed placements and/or module completion
  • Work collaboratively with service provider partners to identify local solutions which are mutually acceptable
  • Also, keep up to date with the guidance from your university and from the HCPC as regulator when developing contingency plans.

We recognise that decisions should be made at a local level to fit with the circumstances of the education provider, students, and partner organisations, whilst following government guidance. If you have any specific queries or concerns, please email.

Temporary registration - Advice to education providers and students

Version 2. Updated 25 March 2020.

This information will be updated once more details have been published by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Education providers

  • Whilst you have been given the flexibility to utilise your professional expertise in relation to changes to assessment, it is your responsibility to ensure that learning and assessment standards are maintained.
  • Education providers should ensure that students achieve all of the learning outcomes of the programme and that they meet College of Radiographers’ Education and Career Framework (2013), Scope of Practice (2013) – Pre-registration and above, as well as HCPC requirements.
  • Students should have no outstanding deferred assessments.
  • Regular communication should be provided to students, even if it is just one sentence, to minimise their anxieties during this unprecedented time.
  • Consideration should be given to how students entered on the temporary register can be supported during this time, in conjunction with practice placements, ensuring appropriate supervision will be in place.
  • Decisions made, and actions taken, regarding whether each student can be entered onto the temporary register should be documented for future reference.
  • Provide an action plan to those students who do not yet meet the learning outcomes.
  • For employment guidance about students working on the temporary register, see below.

Students

  • Your education provider will review the learning outcomes achieved for each student before adding you to the temporary register.
  • You can choose to opt out of the temporary register. This may be a good option for some who need to focus on their final academic assessments. You need to ensure that you manage your time well so that you can graduate. Discuss this with your education provider.
  • Some students will not have met all of the learning outcomes and will need to complete the outcomes detailed in their action plan. Once you meet all learning outcomes, your education provider can add you to the temporary register.
  • If entered onto the temporary register, you must work within the boundaries of your competence. Working as a newly qualified radiographer can be stressful as you learn to become an autonomous professional and therefore, we would expect that appropriate clinical supervision is available for you. This is an excellent opportunity to work with the NHS in providing important and critical care during Covid-19.
  • If you have questions, please get in touch with your education provider in the first instance.
  • Please be patient as regulatory information is being published and the relevant legislation being passed prior to being able to implement a temporary register.
  • Each programme throughout the UK is structured differently, with students engaging in their practice placements at different times. This may be relevant when deciding if you meet the criteria to be entered onto the temporary register.
  • For employment guidance about students working on the temporary register, see below.

HCPC temporary register for final year students - FAQs (Added 27 March 2020)

We are aware that students are facing a lot of uncertainty at this time and there are a lot of unanswered questions. We’re working on getting those sorted.

IMPORTANT: Many decisions will be taken locally by your HEI because of the different ways each course is run so please contact your HEI in the first instance.

When do they plan to set up the emergency register?

Now that the government has passed the Covid-19 bill (Wednesday, 25 March 2020), we’re expecting the temporary register to be set up by the HCPC in the next week or so with more detailed advice, so please keep checking our Covid-19 pages. The date you will be added will depend on your individual circumstances, which will be determined by your higher education institution (HEI). Please be reassured that the HCPC want to set this up correctly, which means taking a bit of time now will mean less mistakes further down the line.

Will it be automatic or do we need to apply?

If your HEI has agreed for you to join, you will be added automatically. You can let your HEI know if you prefer not to be added, or if you’re unable to work for whatever reason.

What band will we be paid at?

Being on a register means that you’re an autonomous radiographic practitioner and therefore should be paid at band 5. Some radiography students may be offered the option of working as an Assistant Practitioner at band 4. These students don’t need to join the temporary register.

Do we have to go onto the temporary register, or can we just wait and go onto the main register?

If you are confident and able, please go onto the temporary register. We don’t currently know when current final year students will be going on to the main register, so it will be better for you to go onto the temporary one. If you are unable to work in a clinical setting in the current crisis, for whatever reason, please speak to your HEI and let them know. Please don’t put yourself in any danger. If you shouldn’t be working due to the government's advice on self-isolation because of an underlying medical condition, don’t work and don’t go on to the temporary register. If you’re feeling apprehensive about joining the register, or anxious about working in the pandemic environment, please find someone to talk this through such as a placement tutor, or one of your university lecturers.

What is the guidance for students with underlying health conditions who have been told by the government/their consultant that they should self-isolate for 12 weeks? When will they qualify?

Students in this category should follow the advice on vulnerable people provided by the government. Like any NHS staff member, it’s important to keep yourself safe, first and foremost. HEIs are being guided by advice from the SoR Educational team. Flexibility on getting people through their degrees is encouraged, but it’s important to note that clinical competencies should be reached before going on either register. There’s no certainty when staff falling into the vulnerable people category will be able to return to work, but once we know this, we’ll have a clearer picture about qualifying those students who also fall into that category.

How many weeks of placement are required to qualify for the temporary register? 



There’s no set number of weeks of placement because this is not a registration requirement and placement time varies greatly between HEIs. To get onto the temporary register, students must have reached their clinical competence, passing all their clinical assessments. HEIs are being encouraged to find innovative ways to allow students to pass these assessments if they have not already done so, if they are no longer on placement, or are unable to complete these with placement staff due to staff shortages, or an overstretched service. In the first instance, talk to the course leader to find out what their intention is.


Is there a guarantee that continuing placement will provide opportunities to garner experience, or is it likely such opportunities will be severely limited in the current circumstances?

In the current, ever evolving situation, there are no guarantees about anything. Students, along with NHS staff, will need to be flexible to meet the needs of patients during this time. If your HEI has made the decision to keep you on placement, then you should continue to attend unless there are reasons why you can’t. If you need some assistance or support during this time, please contact your tutors, or the SoR student officer Nic Smith.


Do they have any idea where we will be placed for work once we're on the emergency register? Is it going to be our usual centre? Or wherever they need staff?


It is currently unclear if staff will be redeployed, but it is likely to happen and will be determined as the need arises. Please be flexible like other staff, but if anything is unclear, please speak to your HEI/an SoR rep/your manager. If you have any concerns, please raise them with your HEI in the first instance, or email the student officer Nic Smith.

Do we have any funding available to get us through placement? I work part time somewhere that’s forced to close and I’m a self-financing student, so I am currently receiving no financial income. The cost of public transport to and from placement each day, as well as the electric and gas bills for all the boil washes and showers we have to do, is putting more of a financial strain on me.

Where workplaces are forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions, the government is covering 80% of your wages. This should include part time workers too, so check with your workplace in the first instance. If you’re still struggling, please look into your university's hardship fund and the Exceptional Support Fund if you’re NOT in receipt of an NHS bursary.

Should we be trained on how to handle Covid-19 patients? If we are put on an emergency register, won't we be expected to work with them?


All those working in a clinical setting with patients, should follow our strict guidance on PPE. If your placement site has decided that placement students should not be treating/scanning patients with suspected Covid-19, you must respect this decision because they will have carried out a risk assessment to make that decision. You will be trained on how to perform all of the tasks associated with your job once on the temporary register and should not perform any task that you don’t feel confident doing, as outlined in this advice to all practitioners by the HCPC.

What if I’m due to retake an exam in the summer? Will this go ahead? Can I still go on the register?

Anyone waiting to take a failed assessment will not be going on the register for now. Your HEI will be looking at your individual circumstances, so you should contact them in the first instance to find out what they are planning for exam retakes. We’re not sure how exams will be taken or retaken at this time, but we know that HEIs are working hard to find ways to accommodate all situations.

Some students have been offered jobs already, however they may register on the Covid-19 temporary register and work within their clinical placement trust, rather than when their job offer was originally made pre Covid-19. If the emergency continues over an extended period, what happens? Do the students stay at the placement site, or move to their permanent job offer employer?

In employment law terms, if you have signed a contract or established an agreement to start employment with a particular board or trust at a date following training, there would normally be an expectation that you will honour this. You have agreed to start employment with them from that date and so simply not turning up would be a breach of this contract.

For this reason it would be wise to contact the board/trust where you have secured the post and notify them of the temporary offer. They may respond by asking you to start with them instead, which could simplify your position.

However, if you do start elsewhere before starting your permanent post then you should, hopefully supported by the current employer’s human resources department, contact the planned future employer to explain the situation. It may be possible to agree a change to the start date at the permanent post if this suits all parties.

Many staff in UK higher education institutions that deliver pre-registration radiography education courses have been approached to support radiography students to become employed as a Healthcare Support Worker in local trusts/health boards. What are the current requirements for educational programmes in order that students may be considered in this role?  

The relevant educational requirements to be a radiography assistant practitioner are detailed within the SCoR document Education and Career Framework for the Radiography Workforce. Qualification levels for a support worker in radiography are also deatiled in the same document.

The Society's opinion is that current first year students (second year students in Scotland) will have met these educational levels and could be considered as a support worker employee. Normal minimal educational level for support workers is a National Vocational Qualification at Level 2 in Health and Social Care.

These outcomes are normally achieved at Level 5 of the Higher Education Credit and Qualifications Framework, or Level 8 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

It must be stressed that the concept of support staff working in clinical imaging and radiotherapy departments is long established, as is their valuable contribution to service delivery. It is also recognised that the range of tasks and duties carried out by support staff varies considerably according to locally determined needs. In no circumstances should a support worker deliver clinical services using ionising radiations; their role is mostly supporting the registered radiographer. During temporary employment as an support worker, the student will have the employer's vicarious liability as employment insurance cover.

Many staff in UK higher education institutions that deliver pre-registration radiography education courses have been approached to support radiography students to become employed as a Radiography Assistant Practitioner (AP) in local trusts/health boards. What are the current requirements for educational programmes in order that students may be considered as a Radiography Assistant Practitioner?

The educational outcomes to be a Radiography Assistant Practitioner are detailed within the SCoR document Education and Career Framework for the Radiography Workforce, in which the outcomes for an Assistant Practitioner are detailed. These outcomes are normally achieved at Level 5 of the Higher Education Credit and Qualifications Framework (HEQF), or Level 8 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

SCoR is of the opinion that present 2nd year students (3rd year students in Scotland) will have met these AP outcomes and could be considered as an AP employee. The important thing to remember is that when a trust/board employs an AP in radiography (even on a temporary basis), the employer needs to check for 'adequate training' (theory and practice) under Schedule 3 of IR(ME)R 2017 (2018, in Northern Ireland) before entitling the individual as an IR(ME)R Operator in a particular scope of practice.

To do this, a check on whether the student has passed the relevant clinical assessments that he/she will be practising during this temporary AP employment must be undertaken (a good reference is the published SCoR AP Scope of Practice).

Usually in diagnostic practice, this would mean that they are competent in undertaking standard radiographic imaging of:

  • Appendicular skeleton
  • Axial skeleton excluding skull and cervical spine
  • Chest and thorax
  • Abdomen and pelvis

Students working as an AP, still require supervision by a registered radiographer. This would be indirect supervision for those practices for which they are deemed competent and direct supervision for more complicated practices. During temporary employment as an AP, the student will have the employer's vicarious liability as employment insurance cover.

Education programme approval process during Covid-19 - Education providers

To follow government guidance on restrictions during the months of Covid-19, we are making small changes to the way we can assess programmes for College of Radiographers’ approval. 

Please go to the Education approval and accreditation page for details.

Important resources

Guidance for education providers from the Health and Care Professions Council

Guidance for educational settings

Information for healthcare professionals

Infection prevention and control advice for healthcare professionals

For country specific information, please refer to:
Health Protection Scotland
Public Health Wales
Public Health Agency Northern Ireland

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