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Posted By: Jim Dailys Frightened into joining VRCT - 15/12/04 11:30 PM
The decision to regulate Clinical Technologists is in effect an excuse to make money and I see it as another tax to add to the many other taxes we have to pay in society.

I do not go to work to give up my hard earned cash to some bureaucratic money making organisation just so they can send me biannual newsletters.

I am firm believer in the stripping down of bureaucracy that in other organisations has been the major cause for loss off competitiveness and profits.

Technicians have had to go through a comprehensive selection process in order to be chosen for the job. Everything from competence and qualifications to attitude is assessed during the interview so only the most suitable candidates are chosen. So why do some people think it is necessary to regulate?

I also believe that the impending case for the regulation of biomedical engineers (Clinical Technologists) is totally unnecessary and can only lead to one group of winners the organisers/managers of the registration scheme. I am sure that the bosses at HPC will not take humble salaries and will indeed 'feather their own nests'.

Let us say that there are 20,000 potential Clinical Technologists around the country (there may be more) all paying £60 a year. That means the HPC (maybe IPEM) will collect a rather handsome reward of around £1.2 million a year (not bad for a years work!)

The current registration fee is £10 a year, the expected registration fee if made compulsory is £60 a year (this could be a lot more in the future) why the leap in charges? Are their operating costs going to shoot up suddenly by 600%? Or will some people be awarding themselves a SMALL bonus?

It feels like a group of people have got together, found a niche market, and are attempting to profiteer from this. In my opinion this can be the only reason for wanted a change in law to make registration compulsory because that way you can be assured of your financial gains from a captive market.

Here are some of the benefits, which IPEM proclaim to be for us.

Protection against rogue traders - if this were true and IPEM were serious about protecting us from rogue traders and not just making money, then why have a voluntary register with entry requirements that are so relaxed that your grandmother could probably get in.

Freedom of movement to work elsewhere within the European Economic Area - this one is very good and I can really see it being very popular, I can't wait to emigrate I am sure we will all be taking advantage of this useless feature of registration.

The protection of professional title - only those registered as Clinical Technologists will be able to practice as such. This is a great benefit ensuring the protection of HPCs and IPEMs management's most valuable asset the income generated from Clinical Technologists registration fees.

These are just a few of the amazing benefits offered to us by IPEM management aimed at tantalizing and attracting us to handover in a zombie like fashion our hard earned cash.

I think the IPEM registration scheme is a great idea, in fact I would like to be involved in running this organisation it would a nice little earner for me in my retirement.

IPEM have stated in their information pages on their website that the only reason for having the voluntary register in the first place was to make the case for regulation of the Clinical Technologist profession. Now I don't know about you but I and many others were not given this information in the early days, no instead we were led to believe that registration will be inevitable and therefore it would be better to join now rather than later as it could be very difficult to join in the future. We were given the impression by our senior management in the hospitals, that in would be impossible to work unless we were registered. These scare tactics were on the whole moderately successful since some people were persuaded to join. Of course, the continuing scare tactics and hiding of the reasons for having a voluntary register resulted in more people joining over the years.

Now it would seem that the main reason for many people joining is not because they truly believe in and want registration but merely because they wanted to avoid the problems that we were all led to believe would confront us if we did not get onto the voluntary register. When I was first introduced to the VRCT I was lied to by my bosses, they did not tell me the real reason for wanting people to join the register instead the used scare tactics. A very dishonest approach from the management, which left me wondering what their motives were.

The truth about the voluntary register is thus:
It is a type of petition, which can be taken to the government in order to persuade them that there are a great number of Clinical Technologists desperate for compulsory registration.
So the more people that IPEM can get signed up the stronger their case will be for regulation, because who could argue with so many registrants who are saying yes to regulation.

If you believe in regulation and in paying the accompanying fees then all is well, but if you joined just because you were afraid of the consequences of not being a member then you joined for the wrong reasons and I would urge to resign your registration. Talk to your union rep if you have one or lobby your MP. If there are not enough people signed up to the voluntary register then it will be very difficult if not impossible to make the case to government and have the regulation rules set in law for evermore. I believe the regulation is not inevitable and if enough people say no to it, the idea will be dead in the water. You have a choice. I choose NO.
A nice first post Jim. Welcome to the Merry Band.

Here's a personal note. Years ago I was in IHospE, SERT, the Society of X-Ray Technology and the AAMI (note well that most of these are now either called something else or gone altogether). Yes, I was Tech Eng and all that. Whilst passing through my compulsory mid-life crisis, I asked myself what use it was paying all that money every year, and let the whole lot lapse. Result? Nothing at all. It hasn't affected me in any way, apart from unread 'journals' and saving a bit of money by not having them posted around the world. I have never been turned away because I wasn't 'in' this or that, but have still managed to 'hold my own' working with professional engineers, architects, physicians and the like.

I believe that there will always be work available for those willing to do it. But the day I am prevented from doing the work I've being doing for the last 30 years just because I haven't joined some totally unnecessary 'quango', will be the day that I finally pack it in (..roll on, then, I hear some say!).

And, while I'm in fighting mode ('haven't had my first cup of tea yet) - personally, I tire of all this talk about the 'need for degrees'. I often work alongside (younger) techs who have taken the opportunity afforded them and have gained their degrees (like most of my generation, it was never an option granted to me). But I challenge anyone to claim that these qualifications today are worth more than my hard-earned HNC of 25 years ago. The whole thing has been devalued. Many of these young guys cannot string two written words together, and that's the truth. Don't even ask about spelling. Spanner, what's that? Educated idiots, quite frankly. To get the job done, what these people really need is decent, up-to-date training at City & Guilds level!

I'm all for communication, sharing the knowledge and good stuff like that. It's great that we now have the internet, and, indeed this very forum! Certification has been an 'issue' as far back as I can remember. They have it in the US, and if we must have it here, I suggest that someone takes a look at their 'model', which at least involves studying for a proper (ie, relevant to the job) examination. But succumb to the 'climate of fear'? Forget it, Mates.

Excuse me now, I must rush off to work (while I still can)! smile

I joined for all the wrong reasons!
But I am pragmatic enough to know where the profession is going. The Engineering Council want to have all 'Engineers' titles protected. IPEM via VRCT are doing this.

At present Health care profesionals required to be registered via the HPC must be or else public authorities cannot employ them. They can however work privately.

If you don't join because 'there is always work available' You may find that you may only be offered the job because those registered are not available and the employer is desparate, also the areas you can work may be limited, i.e not for the NHS.

I've been a member if the IeeIe for many many years. I have seen in that time the requirements for entry rise at least twice. If I was not a member now and suddenly required to be, I would not qualify. Few of my fellow workers in my previous profession wanted sponsorship to join later and found they had to join as Eng Techs, despite their level of experience verses those with degrees who could join as IEng.

I would advise joining while you can before the door is firmly shut.
Jim - obviously a very angry and heartfelt posting ! I only seriously disagree with you on one point - what you describe as a rigorous selection process in order to get the job.

Unfortunately some hospital management - who don't appreciate the complexity or importance of what we do - have used Medical Electronics as a convenient parking area for excess staff rather than making them redundant. I've mentioned this before, but I know of one hospital where the EBME manager wasn't allowed to advertise his two vacancies because he was given two "redundant" gardeners ! Honestly.

We certainly do have the capability to do harm to patinets by our ineptitude and technicians / engineers working in our field certainly need to be suitable and competent. As responsibility is devolved more and more to individual hospitals and Trusts, there has to be some degree of control to ensure they don't do such inapropriate staff relocation on a regular basis. Registration seems to be the accepted way of achieving this.
Jim, Geoff

Whilst I agree, in principle, with a lot of your views I am also wise enough to know that this is going to happen.

Like most Medical Engineers, or whatever you may be called, I wasn't born to do the job and I received no calling.

I came to the "profession" from another technical background and have stuck with this for the last 16 years.

I agree whole-heartedly with Geoff, some of the most useless engineers I know possess Degrees or above, some of the best Engineers I've met possesss no qualifications at all.

This does not mean we should not look forward to developing the "profession" and safe guarding the future.

I've used quotations above because, at this moment, we are not a profession. We are a hotch-potch of like minded individuals doing a similar job.

No snob value, but I would rather be looked upon as a professional rather than a handy lad with a screwdriver.

Like Jim, I too am not a big lover of IPEM. I was an active member of AMT before it sold out.
I didn't agree with the reasons, didn't take up the option of transferring over to IPEM but I wouldn't twist the knife in them either.
They are one of a number of groups driving forward VRCT to the accredited stage.

I also would like to thank the work done by Jim Methven and his colleagues.
I know Jim from AMT days, and if it were not for the likes of him I don't think we would ever be at a stage were we can hold our heads as high as other Healthcare professionals.

I've been on the Voluntary register since it's launch, I'll stay on the voluntary register till it changes over to it's State Registration.

I don't wish to part with my hard earned cash, but appreciate it as a necessary evil as I'm sure all other Healthcare professionals do.

Will I withdraw because I've been cajoled/frightened/intimidated in joining?


I wish to carry on doing the type of work I do now. If by not being on a register means I can't do that then I'll choose to be on the register.

I believe that in time it will control and regulate the nature of the work we do at present. If it stops management de-valuing what we do now by making them accept minimum criteria then the price is worth paying.

Jim says technicians have to go through a comprehensive selection process to be chosen for the job. I agree, in most cases, but I have also come across plenty of "cowboys" both NHS and private companies. If SRCT stops this then the sooner the better I say.
I agree with most of the sentiments of Dave H.

I am not a fan of IPEM, but, the issue of registration is not driven by IPEM, and the VRCT is a response to what will happen anyway. Where the VRCT (and its constituent members) have been/and are useful is arguing the case for clinical technologists (and I dislike that name) and hopefully smoothing the way.

Without the work put in so far, and that needed in the near future, we could have been well and truely 'shafted'.

The whole point about the VRCT is that we show that we are capable of acting as 'professionals' and that it gives us a coherent voice. A group of 2000 (or however many there are) will be given greater credence that the odd individual or two who bleat about it not being necessary or unfair.
It is inevitable that we will all have to register.
When this has happened in the past to other professional group (i.e. clinical scientists), those who did not register found it much more difficult if they wished to progress their career.
Surely (Dave H), 'professionalism' is (like all the other 'isms') simply a state of mind. My own views are well known. I believe that the 'handy lad with a screwdriver' is exactly who we need more of. Just ask anyone trying to recruit at the moment.

Sorry, John, but you're going to have to change that 'Be Proactive' to 'Be Pragmatic'! wink

Life's too short (especially low-life), so let's just agree to disagree. But I can't miss another opportunity to remind you and others that some techs. don't want to 'progress' (in the sense I assume you intend). Some of us have 'been there, done that' and are content just doing the hands-on work! What's wrong with that?

Have a good break, Mate, ready to pick up the Banner once again and carry on the Campaign in the New Year. smile
John, Not true! Clinical Scientists are not required to be registered until July 2005 (current undergoing transitional period). After that date you cannot claim to be a Clinical Scientists unless you are registered as it is a protected title. You can still practice if you called yourself something else.

There is no requirement to be registered by law, but it would be against the law to claim to be clinical scientist or technologist if not registered. It would be down to individual employers if they employed unregistered staff. You can call yourself say a EBME Engineer and still able to practice within the law. This is the message (rightly or wrongly) being given to unregistered clinical scientists who do not register by July, you can't call yourself a Clinical Scientist but you may call yourself a Medical Physicist but still be doing the same role.

I would like to hear Jim's or HPC's view on this as this needs confirming of denying so we can end all this speculation.
With reference to the original posting, would you all wish to be in a position that even your grandmother can claim to be as able as you?

Is it not time to take a good look at what we do and how we do it and not let any Tom & Harry to claim to have the same capabilities without having to prove it?
Well said Hamid, couldn't agree more
As I read through all the posts regarding this subject it suddenly struck me that all this talk of the "volantary register of technologists" and requirements for a "degree" as the entry level is a little off. Surely if an applicant had a "degree" they would be an "engineer", the way I have understood it up till now (perhaps wrongly)is that is that a "technologist" was someone with qualifications (some at a higher level) which are lower than a formal degree. I am personally for the idea of registration for many of the reasons given by others but as Jim stated why should it cost so much?

Having a 'degree' does not necessarily mean that you would be an 'engineer', unless it is one that qualifies and allows the use of the title.

I think that the title 'technologist' is an attempt to try and give an identity to the very wide range of technical jobs. It is also a move away from the 'technician' title which has come to mean something less than it used to.

Similarly, the clinical technology degree being mooted is aimed at standardising training and knowledge base for this group. It is being driven by the DH.

Hopefully this will increase the range of transferable skills and knowledge, making it easier to move around from one discipline to another.

As far as the cost of registration is concerned, this will be set by the HPC.
I think Techman is right. To be and "Engineer", well a chartered one anyway, you need at least a masters degree. I think all requirements for any title or job are just getting higher and higher.
I feel this happened when every college and poly suddenly became a university and could issue degrees along with the government policy of more people getting degrees.
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