Longitudinal changes in extended roles in radiography : A new perspective
Le Masurier, S.B.
Purpose: The purpose of this research was to update data on the scope of changes to radiographic practice since the principal author's last survey in 2000. The study also sought to identify any regional patterns in the adoption and diffusion of extended roles and to map the implementation of the 4-tier structure. Method: Structured questionnaires were sent to radiology managers at acute National Health Service (NHS) trusts across the United Kingdom. Information sought included region, teaching/non-teaching status, the nature of extended role tasks undertaken and the year in which these tasks were adopted, numbers of radiographers and radiologists in post. Information was also sought on the implementation of the '4-tier structure'. Results: Some 177 questionnaires were returned from a total of 258 dispatched giving a 68.6% response rate. In 166 trusts, radiographers administered intravenous injections; they performed barium enemas in 147 trusts and barium meals in 19 trusts, while a red dot system was in operation in 143 trusts. Each category showed an increase from that reported in 2000. Likewise reporting by radiographers had increased since 2000. Responses indicated that at 146 trusts, radiographers were reporting in ultrasound; reporting of the appendicular skeleton was undertaken at 81 trusts and axial skeletal reporting at 70 trusts. Barium enemas were reported by radiographers in 78 trusts. Reporting was also undertaken by radiographers on barium meals, mammography, nuclear medicine, paediatric and chest radiography; and all showed an increase in frequency since 2000. Regional differences were again apparent in reporting, with a greater prevalence in the English regions, with the exception of London. In respect of the 4-tier structure, 59% of the sample employed assistant practitioners, 47% advanced practitioners and 3% employed consultants. The numbers reported in each category (excluding practitioners) were 158 assistants, 623 advanced practitioners and six consultants. There were a number of trusts that had plans to introduce assistants, advanced practitioners and/or consultants over the following two-year period. Conclusion: The study provided data that illustrated the extent to which NHS acute trusts are utilising the skills of radiographers and recognizing the extended scope of radiographic practice. Implementation of the 4-tier structure is underway with the greatest number of staff (excluding practitioners) categorized as advanced practitioners. This does provide some evidence of trusts responding to the 2000 NHS Plan in introducing new ways of working. The number of consultants, as could be expected at the time of the survey was low.