The College of Radiographers has been working with Skills for Health to increase the recognition of skills and expertise among its professionals and to support the development of new roles such as assistant practitioner in radiotherapy.

First, Skills for Health looked at the skills needed to deliver specific services in radiotherapy and oncology to complement service design. Then, after analysis and mapping work, they produced a set of competences developed for multi-disciplinary roles, including specific ones for an assistant practitioner in radiotherapy role.

The new role is aligned to key competences based on national occupational standards and individuals can gain accreditation through two routes, by progressing through a university programme or a national vocational qualification course.

As national occupational standards are also incorporated into pre-registration radiotherapy degree programmes, the assistant practitioner can use their accreditation as credit towards an undergraduate degree programme. Practitioners following the NVQ route are able to support their progression and final accreditation using a portfolio of evidence as part of their work-based learning.

Is accreditation really necessary?

Although assistant practitioners are not required to be accredited to practice, it makes sense because it has far-reaching benefits. For the individual, accreditation recognises their competence and is a statement of their ability to perform in the workplace. As it is recognised throughout the NHS, this is a major advantage for an individual's career development.

In the long term, accreditation programmes such as these offer reassurance that a potential employee has demonstrated their competence, which is good news for professionals, employers and people who use healthcare services.