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Diagnostic Workforce Developments

Greater Manchester Diagnostic Workforce Review – Imaging and endoscopy

Diagnostics is clearly a priority area for GM as it is nationally.  The Royal College of Radiologists 2018 UK census report highlights the increasing demand for diagnostic radiology services, and how ‘vacant consultant posts cannot be filled, and expenditure on outsourcing, insourcing and locums is spiralling’. COVID-19 exacerbated pressures on the diagnostic workforce creating further backlogs of patients awaiting diagnostic tests, particularly in endoscopy.  The NW imaging cell previously commissioned PA Consultancy to conduct a review of diagnostics and this highlighted a national ask to do an ‘urgent review of the workforce supply routes and a focus on the skills and competence required across the pathways and modalities should be undertaken working with HEE and education providers to design flexible routes across the career framework (medical and non-medical).’   This was further supported by the Richard’s review – Diagnostics: Recovery Renewal 2020.

To support conducting an in-depth review of the Greater Manchester (GM) diagnostics workforce funding was secured from HEE.

The review will focus specifically on imaging and endoscopy, taking an alternative qualitative approach to provide insights into the GM specific challenges with the diagnostic workforce and directly connect with the teams delivering the services themselves to understand the detail behind these challenges as well as successes and initiatives that have made a difference to their performance. There will be a focus on how staff view their role and how they are valued within the wider system, looking at job satisfaction to understand how to best retain and recruit in the current and future challenging environment.

The findings will help to identify potential future workforce models to better meet the needs of people affected by cancer in GM in alignment with the GM cancer workforce strategy and NW imagine workforce strategy. This will be done by working with GM and North West (NW) diagnostic workforce groups to develop proposals for potential diagnostic workforce pilots. It will also link in and inform areas of focus for the newly established to NW imaging and endoscopy academies.

The project is an opportunity for GM to focus on understanding more of its own specific challenges and successes around its diagnostic workforce from a qualitative research perspective by bringing together detailed case studies through interviews and questionnaires with the teams delivering these services. We will also be engaging with our future workforce by engaging learners and students at our local Universities.  By using a local approach we can scope the current situation and recognise the impact of any initiatives focused on retention of staff, upskilling and redesigning skill mix, cross site working or improving access to training.

To date the approach has been piloted in two trusts. The imaging review has been piloted at Bolton and endoscopy at Salford Royal FT.  Preliminary findings have been shared with the imaging network and there has been agreement to rollout the approach across all GM trusts.  The endoscopy pilot is currently being completed and will be shared with the network accordingly.

Key findings from the imaging workforce pilot study at Bolton NHS FT

  • What attracted people to imaging roles – Mix of technical skills and caring roles. Inspired by colleagues during training/visiting department and personal experience.
  • What attracted staff to Bolton NHS FT – Location and the training & development opportunities.
  • Retention- Staff wanted to stay at Bolton due to the quality & range of development opportunities e.g. link grades & specialist roles. Proud to offer high quality care and imaging.
  • Development opportunities – Staff wanted more specialised roles at advanced levels, end to end development opportunities from assistant to consultant Radiographer.
  • Innovative roles & working – Assistant practitioners in MRI & Radiographer led discharge from the ED.
  • What does Bolton do well – Grows their own workforce, learning culture, quality CPD and a wide range of development opportunities in different modlities.
  • Areas for consideration – Grow & upskill more of their own workforce, leadership training, explore split roles with HEI’s or professional bodies.
  • Next steps – roll out across all other GM imaging services. Combination of electronic survey and interviews.

North West Endoscopy Academy

The North West (NW) Endoscopy Academy has now been launched.

The aim of this forward-thinking training development is to ensure provision of long term and sustainable education and training capacity within the system and to increase the pipeline of trained medical, clinical and support staff to meet the endoscopy workforce plans of the region.

Training and education of the future workforce will be the primary focus, maximising the expertise of experienced educators and supervisors across the NW. The overall aim is to increase the number of training centres and learners transitioning to the workforce utilising the academy model to increase training capacity. It will provide a high quality and enhanced training experience and to accelerate learning to independent practice.

The endoscopy Academy will look at the current training of all endoscopy staff and explore new roles, skills mix, workforce models, such as the role of the Physician Associate.

North West Imaging Academy 

The North West Imaging Academy (NWIA) has now been launched. The Academy comprises a consortium of delivery providers including NHS Trusts, HEI’s and the North West School of Radiology.

Key drivers were to address diagnostic throughput capacity, workforce shortages, new approaches to education and training, workforce transformation models, with the overarching aims of reducing health inequality and improving outcomes across all areas of the North West.

Initial objectives were to:

  • support the expansion of radiologist training, improve teaching for ST2 and 3 and provide additional capacity for developing reporting skills
  • develop multiprofessional education for radiographers and wider professional groups
  • increase independent reporting capacity and instigate a process of accreditation to evidence the capabilities of trainees and reporting radiographers
  • lead regional standard setting for radiographer reporting

The Radiology Academy at Edge Hill Medical School (EHUMS) became the hub of the NWIA and has a recently expanded IMac lab and cloud-based simulation environment for development of reporting skills. The NWIA will provide CPD for the wider imaging workforce.

Spoke sites have also been establishes across the NW with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust chosen to host the GM imaging hub.

Funding has also been provided to a variety of NW Trusts to provide local education and training facilities that will provide a local environment for private study and on-site imaging education.

The Universities of Cumbria and Salford have developed a collaborative ultrasound academy. They have developed primary training in ultrasound through expanding their direct entry programme, whilst maintaining opportunities for qualified radiographers to move into this modality. They have created Ultrasound Skills Hubs at each university. These are being used to grow the numbers of new sonographers being educated and provide ultrasound training for a variety of professional groups.

Link to the NWIA newsletter North West Imaging Academy Training Hub Newsletter (

The endoscopy Academy will be made up of a Hub and spoke model across the NW.

The Hub will be responsible for:

  • Central co-ordination of courses

  • Delivery of Basic & Specialist skills courses
  • Upskilling and coaching each spoke
  • Provide ‘Train the Trainer’ courses for Endoscopy Units
  • Co-ordinating Immersive Training

There will be spokes in each of the 3 regions of the NW which are Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Merseyside and South Cumbria & Lancashire. Each spoke will be responsible for:

  • Development of Faculty
  • Maintaining accreditation
  • Delivery of Basic Skills Courses
  • Establishment of ongoing training needs analysis for each locality
  • Central development and co-ordination of specialist endoscopy training for a different core group of the endoscopy workforce.

North West Imaging Academies

Following the announcement of national funding to support the development of imaging academies, a project team is working with imaging stakeholders across the North West (NW) to develop a North-West Imaging Academy. A virtual hub will act an enabler of change, provide leadership and assurance that objectives are met, and that the model fits the needs of the NW imaging services and their service users.

The aims of the NW imaging academy are

  • To increase training capacity across the region
  • To provide multi-professional training across the team
  • Provide flexible and high-quality training environments
  • To enable immersive training in priority areas to support the rapid development of skills to support training
  • To make best use of available teaching faculty
  • To increase the numbers of learners and increase in the numbers of staff able to enter the workforce

A range of options are being explored for development and prioritised by members of the steering group following engagement along with other stakeholders. This will include expansion of current training facilities and exploring the set-up of new models of delivery across the NW.

Examples of areas being considered for development in the short and long term include:

  • A range of options are being explored for development and prioritised by members of the steering group following engagement along with other stakeholders. This will include expansion of current training facilities and exploring the set-up of new models of delivery across the NW.
  • Examples of areas being considered for development in the short and long term include:

Libby Mills, Project ManagerIf you’d like to know more about any of the diagnostics workforce work, please get in touch with Libby Mills, Diagnostics Workforce Project Manager.

Contact Libby

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