Published: 02/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5934 Page 40

South West London strategic health authority is leading a national recruitment and retention strategy for radiographers - part of a£3.4m government strategy to help add a thousand to the NHS workforce by December 2005. SHAs are being given£52,000-£115,000 to help modernise and expand the radiography workforce in their area.

One of the key elements of the strategy is encouraging the development of new roles and ways of working. 'Funding has been made available for the appointment of clinical learning facilitators across England, who will support development of the existing radiography workforce by promoting the introduction of assistant and advanced practitioners, and consultant roles, ' says Amanda Cranston, national project manager at South West London SHA.

Addenbrooke's trust introduced assistant practitioners to its radiotherapy workforce three years ago. 'We were very poorly off for staff so we tendered to be a pilot site for the project, ' says professional development co-ordinator for radiotherapy Jane Head. 'We developed work-based training and in the short term it helped us to address service delivery - we got bodies on the shop floor immediately.' Addenbrooke's has also introduced advanced practitioner roles. 'Advanced practice gives us the opportunity to professionally develop our own staff who may have expertise in a specific area, ' says Jane. 'Rather than losing them to management or teaching - or them leaving the NHS altogether - we support them in the education and training required to become advanced practitioners. The expertise they develop helps ease the workload on others and allows us to keep valuable staff.' And the new roles have had a knock-on effect of attracting interest from graduates. 'By showcasing what we have achieved at recruitment fairs, we have gone from not being able to recruit any newly qualified radiographers three years ago to seven this year, ' she says.

Royal United Hospital Bath trust has a range of working options to enable it to recruit and retain staff in its diagnostic radiography department. These include fixed shifts and part-time and term-time work. Some staff are on specific contracts that enable them to meet other commitments outside work. Assistant divisional manager for radiotherapy, haematology and oncology Craig Forster says: 'We decided to go beyond the usual job-share and part-time working and looked at a whole range of avenues.' The radiology department at Papworth Hospital foundation trust has filled nearly all its vacant posts by encouraging staff from its preferred agency to work for the NHS.

Radiology manager Richard Rowlands says: 'The rewards and freedoms for agency staff are much greater, but Papworth offers stability and the chance to gain specialist knowledge and skills in a cardio-thoracic specialty. Agency radiographers like working here so much that they want to become part of the multidisciplinary team.'