Dorset trust introduces therapeutic radiographer clinical career pathway to boost workforce

University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust has embarked on a project to boost its recruitment and retention of therapeutic radiographers, with the support of Wessex Cancer Alliance. Working with Skills for Health and Health Education England South East, the trust has developed a structured clinical career pathway for therapeutic radiographers focused on breast cancer that will enable progression through to advanced and then consultant level of practice.

It is hoped that expanding and enhancing career progression routes will make a career in therapeutic radiotherapy more attractive to new recruits and help with the retention of current staff.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the UK and it is a top priority to boost the workforce, according to head of therapy radiography David Frost: “Introducing this new clinical career pathway enables a therapeutic radiographer to progress all the way through advanced to consultant level, which is an exciting prospect professionally and also for the trust to encourage recruitment and retention and to support improved outcomes for patients.”

The Wessex Cancer Alliance is providing initial funding over a two-year period to support the advanced progression into consultant therapeutic radiographer roles.

At a consultant level of practice, those qualified will spend at least 75 per cent of their time seeing patients and will be able to refer a patient for radiation, something that would otherwise be done by a doctor. There is also scope for consultant therapeutic radiographers to progress onto doctorate level in future.

Dawn Probert is a senior consultant at Skills for Health and has been working with Health Education England South East to identify areas of good practice in the cancer and diagnostics careers pathway. She said: “Having the workforce structure to allow for progression is key to boosting the workforce overall.

“Recruiting to these roles will therefore improve patient experience, enhance the clinical treatment pathway and support the clinical oncologist team to deliver the service in a timelier way, as well as being an attractive option for attracting therapeutic radiographers to the trust and retaining them.”

The new pathway also sees the development of additional advanced practitioner roles. Starting at band 7, undertaking a relevant accredited clinical MSc over a two-year period enables progress into the band 8a role of advanced clinical practitioner in therapeutic radiography.

In this role, the practitioner will see new patients, triage for treatment, conduct follow-up reviews and more, before moving onto the consultant role after the necessary education and consolidation of competence. This pathway has an estimated time frame of five years depending on the candidate.

Picture: Skills for Health senior consultant Dawn Probert and University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust head of therapy radiography David Frost.

Published on page 3 of the August 2023 issue of RAD Magazine.

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