A Prescription for Radiation


Hello, my name is Jason and I am Diagnostic Radiographer currently undertaking a NES AHP Career Fellowship. This is my first blog post, so it may be useful to get everybody up to speed on what I am doing, and why I am doing it as an appetiser.

One of the first NES workshops taught me how to produce an elevator pitch, so:

“My project aims to develop an educational package, to be delivered to Non-medical Referrers (NMR) regarding radiation protection to aid in compliance with Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017 (IR(ME)R17)”

It might seem like a bunch of words to some, or it might make perfect sense to others. For the purpose of the former I will explain what that actually means. If you are familiar with IR(ME)R17 regulations it calls for “appropriate training” for Non-medical Referrers, leaving a wide space of subjectivity.

Currently, training for NMR’s differ at a multitude of levels, with different Nursing, Midwifery and Health Professions (NMaHP) cohorts utilising different resources, or none at all! I know that a one boot fits all approach to education doesn’t suit all, but for IR(ME)R –every person referring will require the same baseline knowledge to refer safely and effectively. I understand that certain roles may lead to more advanced training, specifically image interpretation and appropriateness of modalities utilised, but this resource is intended to enable NMaHP’s to refer appropriately. From the outset, it was clear my fellowship project task was going to grow arms and legs as I progressed, which is a good thing, as project management skills were sure to be developed along the way.


The first learning point from this project was that different departments within each board, adopts their own approach to education, causing a constant cycle of re-inventing the wheel to provide tailored resources for their staff training. However, Ionising Radiation within healthcare is not a malleable entity, it does not act differently depending on where in Scotland you work, or globally for that matter, so why should the training? How do you think attitudes would change if the word “prescription” was utilised for radiological requests. If we did use the word prescription this might just allow us to step back and as referrers and ask ourselves one of the most important questions for Imaging – Does the Reward outweigh the Risk?

A parallel example may be (and I am not a prescriber, so bear with me) – Would you prescribe antibiotics to a patient that may not have an infection –just in case? I understand there is no straight answer in a complex system, but let’s not overcomplicate radiation protection.

I am not advocating from this project that I am going to produce novel or pioneering material that will radically change current practices. Instead, I will consolidate and revive existing training resources so that they are consistent, engaging and forward thinking. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel!  Part of this will involve the use of e-learning capabilities. The realisation that because we have always done it that way, means we must continue to do it that way is old news. Leaders within the NHS are enabling change, initiating better pathways to enable goals to be achieved safely and more efficiently. The digital age is pushing focus away from power point presentations delivered in lecture theatres to the masses at a time that may not suit all, and towards e-learning platforms, utilising webinars, Q&A’s, interactive resources that can be incorporated into NMaHP’s busy working week.

This project is still in its infancy, it is currently scoping out the perceptions and knowledge of existing NMR’s within NHSGG&C to identify if there are any shortfalls in current resources, to gain an understanding of NMaHP’s perceptions of radiation and what they think would help in educating the ever expanding NMR workforce within the NHS to radiation protection. Role transformation within NMaHP’s has opened doors that were previously closed; it is up to us to ensure that people walk through the doors of changing practice with a full complement of skills and knowledge to enable these developments to work safely and effectively.


If you are a NMR, or have an interest in this topic and have any thoughts on radiation protection, ideas or suggestions please get in touch.

E-mail: Jason.Stanley@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Twitter: @jasostan


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