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Volume 4 Supplement 1

Symposium Mammographicum 2002

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An evaluation of the current role of radiographer film readers in breast screening

Literature suggests that both the government and professional bodies are supportive of role development and changing of professional boundaries, but is this representative of current clinical practice?

All 97 mainland UK National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) centres were surveyed. Postal questionnaires were sent to both radiographer film readers and departmental superintendent radiographers centring on practical, clinical and managerial issues concerning the current practice and implementation of extended roles. An overall response rate of 79% was achieved. Of radiographers working in breast screening, 10% are trained in image interpretation and reporting in mammography. Only 43% of these read annually a minimum of 5,000 mammograms – the quality guidelines for radiologists. Many barriers inhibiting the utilisation of radiographer film readers were identified:

1. Resource constraints, both human and financial

2. Time constraints

3. Quality assurance issues

4. National structure.

This study demonstrated under-utilisation of radiographer film readers in the UK NHSBSP, raising the issue of 'Is training radiographers to film read an efficient and effective use of scarce health care resources?'

Further research into this contentious issue is necessary to fully evaluate and ensure effective use of clinical skills; better service to the patient; and efficient use of health care resources is undertaken.

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Williams, B., Brown, P. An evaluation of the current role of radiographer film readers in breast screening. Breast Cancer Res 4 (Suppl 1), 60 (2002).

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