Advanced practitioner radiographers deliver biopsy results in role extension project

An exploratory MSc research project has led to advanced practitioner radiographers at East Lancashire Breast Unit delivering biopsy results to breast screening patients, a role traditionally undertaken by consultant breast radiologists.

The research highlighted challenges and important enabling factors, while establishing that extension to the role is very much within the radiography scope of practice. The findings have now been published in the British Journal of Radiology (BJR) and supported by Health Education England.

BJR was chosen due to its primary audience of radiologists, and this is crucial to the enablement of other units following in the project’s success. Reporting on the project, consultant radiographer Joleen Kirsty Eden said: “To our knowledge, no other breast unit encourages radiographers to deliver benign and malignant results; therefore, we may be the first to form fully radiographer-led clinics.

Joleen Kirsty Eden and Rita Borgen
Consultant radiographers Joleen Kirsty Eden and Rita Borgen, who inspired the research.

“I am very grateful and fortunate to work in a wonderful unit that pushes the development of radiographers with immense support from our breast radiologists and breast care nurses. I feel strongly that this service improvement is something that may benefit other breast screening units which, like all of us, continue to struggle with workforce issues.”

Service implementation began in May 2019, with notably improved efficiency of clinics and less waiting time for patients. Additionally, radiographers have developed advanced communication skills and an intrinsic understanding of patient management. Inclusivity within the team has continued to grow, and ultimately advanced practice has evolved, benefiting both patients and the radiography profession.

“Successful implementation would not have been possible without the dedication and professionalism of these outstanding radiographers who have come to show that opportunities within their field may be defined but are not without possibility,” added Eden.

Lead picture: Advanced practitioner radiographers Rachel Folley, Sam West, Kathy French and Alison Pye.

Published on page 2 of the February 2021 issue of RAD Magazine.

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