Sonographer Workforce Review

17th Nov 2015

BMUS is working in conjunction with other professional bodies, clinical colleagues, educationalists and representatives from local education and training boards (LETB’s) on the current workforce project being undertaken by Health Education England (HEE). Although currently this discussion is being led by the HEE, BMUS believes that the outcomes of these discussions will also have relevance for the sonographic workforce Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There is a real and urgent need to review sonography workforce issue, including career progression, education and proposals to increase the number of sonographers working within the profession.

Issues being explored by the HEE include: the competencies and skills required to undertake and report ultrasound examinations and proposals for increasing the number of practitioners available.  BMUS is involved with this project and is representing members’ views. The recently published (1) membership survey undertaken by BMUS (published in the November 2015 Ultrasound Journal) provides pertinent information which informs BMUS’ opinion and ensures your opinions are represented by the Society.

The workforce project is evaluating the competencies and skills required to acquire and report ultrasound examinations. Concerns regarding these two elements were raised in the survey and whether they can be undertaken separately. BMUS believes that the two elements of an ultrasound examination are interdependent and should not be separated. There are only a few situations in which a purely protocol driven scan is appropriate (for example aortic aneurysm screening). It is essential that the practitioner acquiring the ultrasound images during an examination is also responsible for the writing of the report; with access to a second opinion from an experienced colleague whenever necessary. BMUS acknowledges that the quality of the report is paramount in ensuring clinical effectiveness of the investigation. As such BMUS (in partnership with the Society of Radiographers) has published tools to support sonographers in producing high quality diagnostic reports.

The ultrasound profession has developed significantly over recent years and BMUS has supported career and professional development of all ultrasound practitioners and sonographers. Many of the duties now undertaken by BMUS members are tasks that were previously performed by Radiologists; tasks that have now been delegated within Radiology to Sonographers. BMUS strongly believes that ultrasound practitioners should be fairly rewarded for their knowledge and skills and for the level of responsibility required to provide diagnostic reports. BMUS supports the concept of skill mix if this can be achieved to improve the service for our patients; however the quality of the service that is provided for our patients remains paramount. BMUS will continue to work with other professional bodies on such projects with HEE, to represent ultrasound practitioners and ensure there is a fair and appropriate recognition for the skills and competencies that are required to deliver a high quality ultrasound service.

November 2015

  1. Parker P, Harrison G, Educating the future sonographic workforce: membership survey: report from the British Medical Ultrasound Society; Ultrasound; 2015; 23, 231-241


Please send any comments to Joy Whyte, BMUS General Secretary

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