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HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20636 22/07/04 11:34 AM
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The following announcement was recently made to members of the professional bodies involved with the Voluntary Register of Clinical Technologists:

"At its meeting held on 13 May 2004, the Health Professions Council (HPC) agreed to regulate the Clinical Technologist profession, however, the decision was tempered because of the HPC’s need to have further evidence before making a final recommendation for regulation to the Secretary of State for Health. The paragraphs below provide further details.

The fundamental purpose of the Voluntary Register of Clinical Technologists is to demonstrate to relevant stakeholders the need to regulate the Clinical Technologist profession. Since the Register opened in October 2000 much work has been undertaken by the members of the VRCT’s constituent professional bodies (IPEM, ART and IIE) to ensure that this purpose is achieved.

The application for regulation was completed and submitted to the Health Professions Council in March 2004 (Copies of some the documentation submitted can be found on the HPC website at http://www.hpc-uk.org/council/meetings.htm under the details for the meeting held on 13th May 2004). Of fundamental importance in the application was the compromise reached between the VRCT and the Department of Health regarding the level and range of acceptable qualifications. Thus the VRCT went forward with a dual qualification application, that is, HNC/HND for engineering technologists and a degree in clinical technology for physics technologists.

The executive summary of the application can be found on the IPEM website at http://www.ipem.org.uk/clintech/clintech.html along with a copy of the detailed presentation made to the HPC. Only seven days before the May meeting the HPC issued their scoring of the VRCT application. The result of the scoring was particularly disappointing and left a lot of work to be done to address the issues raised and only a short time in which to do so.

According to the HPC, the two main weaknesses of the application were the failure to define the discrete area of activity displaying some homogeneity, and, the lack of a body of knowledge! (Note: if you wish to review the HPC application process for new professions, this can be found on the HPC website at http://www.hpc-uk.org/professions/new_professions.htm .) Other problem areas included the defined routes of entry and independent assessment of the entry qualifications. During the intervening seven days significant work was undertaken to ensure that the presentation made to the HPC addressed those issues as well as incorporating the entire application.

The VRCT representatives at the HPC were Mick Wingell (IIE), David Gandy (ART) and Jim Methven (IPEM), who made the presentation. The Council consisted of between 25-30 members and there were perhaps another 15-20 members of the general public also present. The presentation contained slides identifying the many and varied roles of the Clinical Technologist but equally emphasising the common threads between them. The intention was to explain to the HPC exactly who Clinical Technologists are, what they do, where they operate and with whom they work.

Once the presentation was finished there was then a period for Council Members to ask questions. These included questions about the education requirements, disciplinary procedure, membership and the results of the ballot of Registrants. Questions were also asked about the minimum educational requirements, the difference between Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Radiographers, Clinical Scientists and the Life Science Technicians, but eventually the majority of the questions revolved around the differences between the two routes of entry: the Medical Physics Clinical Technology degree route, and, the Clinical Engineering route using the HNC/HND model. After about forty five minutes of detailed and intense questioning a debate followed. Eventually after much angst and detailed discussion, the Council voted on a proposal to regulate the profession. They agreed that the practice of Clinical Technologists has the potential to cause harm and therefore requires to be regulated. However, there were conditions attached that would need to be satisfied before the Council could make a final decision.

Essentially they require clarification on two points: Firstly, that the requisite minimum level of education to work safely as a Clinical Technologist must be set at the same level across all of the disciplines and not set differently as in the application. Secondly, that further consideration should be given to the part of the HPC Register on which Clinical Technologists would be regulated (this may mean that perhaps consideration be given to joining with other groups such as Life Science Technicians working with technology, who might also fit onto the register).

They agreed to consider these matters at the HPC Council meeting to be held in September, when a final decision would be made. Apparently, the final decision on whether to regulate Clinical Perfusionists and Clinical Physiologists will also be made at the September meeting. It is uncertain at this stage exactly what the VRCT input will be to that meeting, although it was suggested that documentary evidence might be all that is required. Arrangements have been made to have a further meeting with HPC officials on 21 July. Before this meeting takes place it is hoped to meet with the Department of Health’s Chief Scientific Officer and representatives of the DoH Regulation Branch.

A number of tough decisions will need to be made soon which could have repercussions for the future development of the profession – especially with regard to minimum acceptable qualifications. IPEM members will be advised of developments. In the meantime, if you have any comments to make about the VRCT application please send these, in writing, to the VRCT Registrar at the IPEM Office.

Footnote:
The actual wording of the HPC decision is as follows:

“RESOLVED:

That clinical technologists should be regulated but that before a recommendation to that effect is made to the Secretary of State:

1. The VRCT submit further evidence to satisfy HPC that an appropriate Standard of Proficiency can be established for clinical technologists as a single profession; and

2. Further consideration is given to the Part in the HPC register in which clinical technologists should be regulated, having regard to the proposed re-structuring of the HPC Register.”

Jim Methven (IPEM)
David Gandy (ART)
Mick Wingell (IIE)"


Edited to resolve bad link - Huw

Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20637 22/07/04 2:06 PM
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They don't seem to appreciate the difference in the rolls. A "scientist" obviously needs a higher level of academic qualification than a "technologist", where the emphasis is more on physical dexterity and skill as well as a basic "flair" for all things mechanical / electrical / electronic.

This is reflected in the different qualifications. A degree is a highly academic course whereas an HND is much more hands-on and practical. I've worked in manufacturing industries alongside people with degrees who didn't know one end of a soldering iron from the other and hadn't a clue how to tackle a circuit that wasn't working. They could analyse the design in great detail, but if a faulty component rather than a design fault was the source of the trouble, they were lost.

To insist that what are effectively two widely different jobs should have the same entry requirement seems ridiculous and unhelpful. In my side of things I need people who can repair things quickly and accurately, but not calculate X-Ray dosage or deal with Laser protection issues.

I know you can say I'm over-simplifying it and the boundaries maybe aren't that clearly defined or obvious in some places, but we've got to take an overview - or "chopper view" as my ex-boss liked to call it - and not back ourselves into a situation where the only people who we can consider for our technician vacancy are academically gifted people with no physical aptitude !

Maybe we need to divide the profession into two and push forward on two applications ? One for the Clinical Scientists and one for the Clinical Technologists. Both groups have the capability of causing serious harm to patients (and staff !) and I agree that everyone should be registered, but I think the insistance on a degree for a technicians job would be a serious mistake.

I apologise in advance to anyone who feels personnaly isulted by these comments. Remember I'm trying to look at it in a general way rather than worry about the exceptions to the rule - and I'm certainly not saying that everyone with a degree is hamfisted and useless - just the majority !
eek


Today is the day you worried about yesterday - and all is well !
Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20638 22/07/04 3:16 PM
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Roy,

I think you are getting a bit confused, Jim's post splits Clinical Technologists into two groups. Engineering Technologists (MTO's working in EBME etc) and Physics Technologists (MTO's working in Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine, Radiation Protection etc.) Clinical Scientists are already state registered by the HPC and can be found in both Clinical Engineering or Clinical Physics specialties.

If the HPC are worried about the different educational requirements maybe they should look at whether the Physics Technologists minimum requirement should be HNC/HND and not try and force the Degree reguirement on Engineering Technologists. Remember this is only a minimum, if departments want to employ people with degrees they can still do so and write the job descriptions accordingly.

Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20639 23/07/04 8:51 AM
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Bioman. Thanks - you're right - I am a bit confused !

Having read through Jim's posting and following the link, I just sat down and wrote my bit whilst I still had steam coming out of my ears ! mad

I just read through so much stuff I lost the thread.

Your point is a good one. The entry requirements are minimum, so the HNC/HND could easily be applied to both branches. If there aren't any HND courses which are relevant to the work done by the Physics Technologist, then they just ask for a degree instead.


Today is the day you worried about yesterday - and all is well !
Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20640 23/07/04 12:44 PM
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Question, if anyone can help. rolleyes
What happens where you have a group of staff, all graded at lets say MTO3***.
All have been employed at grade the same period of time.
All have had the exact same training on the job since taking up post.
All have exactly the same levels of responsibility and duties.
But one of them doesnt have a HNC eek , however they where accepted onto a post advertised as "HNC or equivalent" and the interview panel appointed because they considered that the experience the individual had was suitable.
Does this new suggestion mean that the bod without a HNC will be dealt with differently than the others ?

Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20641 23/07/04 1:48 PM
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I don't think so - as long as they all were accepted for registration because of their length of service etc. How we deal with someone who we know is perfectly capable, but doesn't get registered on a technicality, is another question !

There must be lots of EBME / Medical Electronics / Medical Engineering departments around the country where not a single technician has a degree/HND - and maybe not an HNC either - because the staff were trained in the days when industry ran apprenticeships and if you wanted to mend electrical / electronic things you did a City & Guilds. I don't think anyone is saying that these departments haven't been doing the work properly all these years - at least I hope they're not - so why do we have to change to an accademic based entry requirement ? Many clinical staff are assessed for promotion etc on competency and much of the technical training provided by the companies is competency based. There's a system in place which would enable Trusts to assure themselves that the technical staff were competent to do the job - something which the gaining of a degree or similar qualification certainly does not.

If everyone has to have a higher qualification to stand any chance of getting any sort of job, then the criticism that degrees etc have been de-valued by the upgrading of so many establishments to University status and the massive increase in students studying in them, will be well founded.

Are skill and aptitude things of the past ?


Today is the day you worried about yesterday - and all is well !
Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20642 23/07/04 8:12 PM
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Roy,

I think the point of the original "two-tier" application to the HPC was to allow for a vocational entry route and academic entry route into the profession and allow both Degree and vocational qualified individuals routes to registration. However it seems that the HPC wants a consistent level of entry i.e. for Engineering Technologists to be at the same academic-level as the Science Technologists. My view, reading between the lines is that level for technologists will have to be pitched at Degree I think.

Quote:
A number of tough decisions will need to be made soon which could have repercussions for the future development of the profession – especially with regard to minimum acceptable qualifications.
The statement above gives me the impression that this might be the case. I cannot see the HPC allowing Engineering and Physics Technologists to be included on a state register after the VRCT panel has already argued successfully that the appropriate Physics Technologists entry level is Degree. Plus the fact that most, if not all, of the other healthcare professions have Degree entry into the profession.

If the VRCT panel does not accept and argue to the HPC that Engineering Technologists enter at this level then I would not be surprised if Engineering Technologists lose the chance of becoming state registered professionals at all. i.e. Engineeering Technolgists as a group may be excluded from the register because the entry level is not pitched high enough.

If this happens then, in the future, equipment maintenance in the NHS, as we know it, may only exist in Medical Physics Departments that have Physics Technologists carrying out equipment maintenance as state registered professionals - allowed to perform the full range of duties and tasks in clincal areas unsupervised. Wheras the Engineering Technologists of the future might have more limited roles that are not regulated.

I suspect this is why there are two sets of profiles in AfC for 'Medical Engineering Technicians' and 'Medical Physics Technicians'. Both groups with very similar job-roles and almost identical scoring for AfC matching but I suspect one group may be state registered in the future (Physics Technologists) and the others not (Engineering Technologists), with salaries and AfC grades commensurate. Of course I hope I'm wrong.

Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20643 29/07/04 9:21 AM
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I agree

Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20644 29/07/04 10:10 AM
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Hang on here, Yes there are two sets of profiles one for medical engineering technicians and one for medical physics technicians. At first glance yes they do look the same, are they the same NO! How do I know this because I in conjunction with others wrote them. If you carefully at these profiles you will see that the major differance is that the medical physics profile allows for equipment design and development issues, whilst the medical engineering profile does not. This is the only real differance! Effectively the medical physics profiles apply to clinical engineering EBME posts (what is the differance may I ask) that have equipment design and development aspects amongst the job function. Therefore there is no reasion why in a large department be it CE or EBME you could not have staff with both ME and MP profiles working within the same department - remember the profiles are about what the job content is. In deed if you have a medical physics equipment service which does just conventional ppm and repair activity then those staff should be using ME and not MP profiles.

Looking at Academic qualifications these are set along the degree route for both sets of profiles quite deliberately, as the profiles have been writen for today and tomorrow with a view to the major changes that ARE GO TO HAPPEN in the next couple of years, yes there are going to have to be some hard choices namely at what - for a better way of putting it - profile/pay band will state reg for CE/EBME - (call it what you will) - will registration apply bearing in mind that the band 4 profile for example is a "training grade"

The question to be asked is a simple one "Do we wish to remain in the Dark Ages or are we bearing in mind what should be our professional ethic of professional development going to move into the 21st Century?"

I for one know which way I want to go

Re: HPC Agrees to Regulate Clinical Technologists
#20645 29/07/04 10:39 AM
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Hear! Hear!

I'm all for raising the level to the same as other groups but, the only problem is that at the moment there are very few clinical/medical technology courses around which encompass the right sort of engineering.

Without this, we could end up with lots of highly educated people with no idea of how to carry out the normal everyday functions required to ensure that equipment is safe to use.

No-one seems to be adressing this little anomaly. Even the IPEM based courses seem to be biased towards the physics side of things.

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