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Radiographer Reporting

radiographer report logoRadiographer reporting (Last updated 24 June 2020).

The College of Radiographers presented a vision paper for diagnostic radiographers to enhance their scope of practice to report images in 1997 [1]. In 2004, Paterson et al. provided guidance and direction on planning and implementing a reporting radiographer service; the education, continuing education and support required by reporting radiographers; quality and standards related to reporting; and the nature of a report [2]. Accordingly, all reporting radiographers undertake postgraduate masters level qualifications, work within their employer’s clinical governance framework and have an individual scope of practice which reflects local service needs. They will have the knowledge, skills and practical experience to meet professional body standards and be entitled in writing as operators under the requirements of The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017 and The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018.

Reporting radiographers work within imaging teams [3]; Common roles within those teams include, for example, writing definitive clinical reports for musculoskeletal and chest plain imaging [4]. With regards to regulation, all UK radiographers are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC defines requirements for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Registration [5]. Radiographers are also guided by intercollegiate Allied Health Professional bodies’ guidance for CPD [6].

In 2017 a cancer workforce plan for England stated that Health Education England would work with the Society of Radiographers and the Royal College of Radiologists to produce 300 additional reporting radiographers by 2020; to help develop and standardise skills, relieve the pressure of routine reporting on clinical radiologists and most important of all, to increase capacity for early diagnosis in a safe and standardised way for the benefit of patients [7].

A national review of radiology academies by Health Education England in 2017 [8] demonstrated that increasing use of skill mix, with the development of advanced and consultant practice radiographers to undertake, perform and interpret a greater range of imaging examinations alongside radiologists, was helping to maintain imaging service productivity. But despite these advances, in 2018, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) [9] reported that issues with staffing were found to be affecting reporting times, there were not enough radiologists to meet current demand. The CQC asserted that radiographers who are trained to report on radiology examinations play a valuable role in delivering timely reports and reducing reporting delays, but it was clear that the skills of reporting radiographers were not always recognised, or they were not being given protected time to report on radiology exams [9]. The Royal College of Radiologists echoed that stance in 2019, stating that high vacancy rates for radiologists and under-utilisation of the skills of reporting radiographers were key issues [10]. Evidently, the effective roles of reporting radiographers within clinical imaging teams are now widely recognised in the UK but not necessarily applied consistently across patient services.

CoR recognise that there is a pressing need to ensure that reporting radiographers receive protected time to report clinical examinations and to utilise their skills fully. An individual job plan is crucial to enable the reporting radiographer to deliver all elements of their role [11]. Further, this allows reporting radiographers to deliver the commitments of AHPs into Action [12], to meet the principles of safe, sustainable and productive staffing [13, 14] and to support the NHS Long Term Plan [15]; delivering an effective, high-quality service requires investment in new equipment and staff, underpinned by a new model of diagnostic provision. The advancing roles of radiographers in new models of service provision are well documented, for example, ensuring timely patient flow in the Emergency Department [4]. A further new model of service provision, proposed in the long term plan, is that by 2023, NHS England and NHS Improvement will have introduced new diagnostic imaging networks across England. The publication in 2019 of Transforming imaging services in England: a national strategy for imaging networks [16] sets out the framework for this. Reporting radiographers are integral to that service development and the success of the imaging networks.

Accordingly, to support reporting radiographer roles within these services, CoR advocate that all reporting radiographers have in place the elements detailed in the table below:

The IRMER employer’s procedures operator role defined - written, with evidence of training records.
An individual scope of practice - defined, written, agreed with the employer.
A standard operating procedure / clear governance framework, agreed with the employer.

An individual Job plan

To support all elements of the reporting radiographer role, include:

• Number of reporting sessions.
• Audit time.
• REALM attendance.
• CPD time.

 

A productive hours calculator for Allied Health Professionals is available online to assist with job planning [17].
For peer support and discussion, access to an online workspace for reporting radiographers is available for SCoR members, please contact pande@sor.org to arrange access.

References:
1. The College of Radiographers (1997) Reporting by radiographers – a vision paper. London: The College of Radiographers.
2. Paterson, M; Price, R; Thomas, A and Nuttall, L. (2004) Reporting by radiographers: a policy and practice guide. Radiography:10;205-212.
3. The Royal College of Radiologists and The Society and College of Radiographers (2012) Team working in clinical imaging. London: The Royal College of Radiologists.
4. NHS Improvement and NHS England (2018) Allied Health Professions Supporting Patient Flow: A Quick Guide. London: NHS Improvement.
5. Health and Care Professions Council (2017) Continuing Professional Development and your registration. London: Health and Care Professions Council.
6. Broughton W and Harris G (2019) (Eds) on behalf of the interprofessional CPD and Lifelong Learning UK Working Group. Principles for Continuing Professional Development and Lifelong Learning in Health and Social Care. Bridgwater: College of Paramedics.
7. NHS England (2017) Cancer workforce plan. Phase 1: Delivering the cancer strategy to 2021. London: NHS England.
8. Health Education England (2017) National Review of Radiology Academies. London: Health Education England.
9. Care Quality Commission (2018) Radiology review. A national review of radiology reporting within the NHS in England. London: Care Quality Commission.
10. The Royal College of Radiologists (2019) CQC Radiology review: Where are we now? Exploring the reality of imaging reporting turnaround times in England. London: The Royal College of Radiologists.
11. NHS England and NHS Improvement (2019) Job planning the clinical workforce – allied health professionals. London: NHS Improvement.
12. NHS England (2017) AHPs into Action. Using Allied Health Professions to transform health, care and wellbeing. London: NHS England
13. NHS Improvement (2019) Supporting NHS Providers: right skills, right staff, right place, right time. London: NHS Improvement.
14. The Society and College of Radiographers (2019) Principles of Safe Staffing for Radiography Leaders. London: The Society and College of Radiographers.
15. NHS England (2019) The NHS Long Term Plan. London: NHS England.
16. NHS England and NHS Improvement (2019) Transforming Imaging Services in England: A National Strategy for Imaging Networks. Accessed 20 June 2020 at https://improvement.nhs.uk/documents/6119/Transforming_imaging_services.pdf
17. NHS England and NHS Improvement (2019) AHP Job Planning Productive Hours Calculator. London: NHS England and Improvement. Accessed 20 June 2020 https://improvement.nhs.uk/documents/5538/AHP_Job_Planning_Productive_Ho...

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