Impact and challenges of consultancy role regarding the delivery of breast imaging services in the United Kingdom: consultant breast radiographers' perspective
Background: Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women worldwide. Imaging and radiographers play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. With the increase in demand and a shortage of radiologists in the UK, consultant breast radiographers were introduced to perform some roles previously performed by radiologists. However, there is a scarcity of research
to assist other countries, such as Zambia, who are planning to extend the role of radiographers.
Objective: To explore the impact and challenges of the radiography consultancy role regarding the delivery of breast imaging services in the United Kingdom.
Methods: The study was guided by a qualitative research design. The sample was purposively selected, and semi-structured interviews was used to collect data from consultant breast radiographers in the UK. Data saturation was reached after interviewing eight participants. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and data analysed thematically.
Results:Two themes were identified: the impact and challenges of the radiography consultancy role regarding the delivery of imaging breast services. The creation of consultant posts impacted positively on the service delivery: reduction in patient waiting times, career progression and job satisfaction, and reduction in the workload of radiologists. Participants also faced challenges: increased workload and time pressure, isolation and poor support from colleagues, and animosity from a few radiologists.
Conclusion: It is evident that consultant breast radiographers have contributed greatly to improved healthcare delivery. However, consultant breast radiographers encounter challenges in their role as consultants. Radiographers undertaking new roles should be supported to improve the delivery of imaging services.
Keywords: breast cancer, consultant radiographer, imaging, radiologist, role extension