Supplementary Ultrasound Service

Background

As patient safety underpins all provisions of our service, we acknowledge that there is a need to develop a culture where the correct diagnosis of an ultrasound scan is the important end point. It is also essential that the report is accurate and assists in effective patient management. For a number of years, it has been recognised nationally (and across the UK) that there is an acute shortage of suitably qualified sonographers available to the Health service. This has created a number of challenging scenarios including (but not limited to):

  • Departments breaching their waiting time targets
  • Existing sonographers being unable to cope with workload demands
  • A need for many Trusts to seek locum cover and engage with sonographers who are occasionally not up to the required standards or quality level set by that department.
  • Permanent sonographers leaving full time employment to seek locum work
  • These sonographers plugging gaps, but leaving behind gaps at their previous employers
  • There is a growing demand to utilise sonographers out of hours, however, many Trusts are bound by Agenda For Change and as such the sonographers will not work for AFC rates (Band 8 and above do not receive overtime payments under AFC so localized agreement is requirement).
  • The hourly rates increasing to an unacceptable level

 

The Service

 

As with our sister company RIG Reporting, the provision is set up as a supplementary service in collaboration with Trust’s regionally, the sonographers will be in full-time permanent employment and are utilised outside of their core working hours to cover additional lists so that no conflict will occur both with their current workplace and with WTD.

The trust would work to rates which would be considered acceptable by the Sonographer but in the same context lower than the rates which trusts currently pay for external sonographers. Practically these sonographers would work towards reducing the existing waiting lists whilst being paid at locum rates which would encourage them not to leave full-time employment, therefore remaining an employee of their Trust with their expertise being retained rather than lost to locum work.

Compliance

In order to support the sonographer, RIG Healthcare would act as the payment vehicle for the supplementary working hours which would ensure both the Trust and the worker adhere to working time directive. The worker would be presented with the option to either work through their own limited company or through the setting up of an umbrella company, both of which we would guide the worker on.

We would also assist with the registration process in line with NHS Employment Check Standards “July 2013” to ensure each worker meets the minimum standard prior to the commencement of their assignment.

Qualifications, Experience and Seniority Criteria of staff

Each department would effectively be agreeing which sonographers they would work with, they would either be existing sonographers covering their own Trust but out of hours or from a regional Hospital where their experience is verified and an induction can be completed.

Insurance

  • Private liability/Indemnity Insurance will be covered, this will be via the workers membership with the Society and College of Radiographers or through an independent Healthcare specific Insurer.
  • Working through their Umbrella payment company, they will also be covered for Public Liability/Indemnity Insurance.
  • Evidence of Society and College of Radiographers membership is highly desirable as this covers Private liability/Indemnity Insurance.

Concerns

RSI - We need to consider the risks of RSI, so each worker has to declare the hours they are covering, both for their home Trust and through the agency with the line manager signing off their authorisation to utilise that sonographer.

Conflict of interest from trust bank/NHSP - Reverting back to the trusts being bound by AFC, whilst there would be an obvious preference for these workers to register with bank, if they are not accepting the rates on offer, there would be a preference to use that sonographer through our supplementary service rather than a standard locum agency due to costs and consistency of supply.

What now?

If you are interested in utilising RIG Healthcare's supplementary service or want to take advantage of additional working hours please contact our ultrasound department on ultrasound@righealthcare.co.uk or call 0345 363 1187

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