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News about the Statutory Regulation of Clinical Photographers

After a very long delay, work is now progressing to realise the statutory regulation of clinical photographers.

CAMIP’s application to the HPC was approved in September 2004 when the HPC Registrar wrote to the Secretary of State for Health with a recommendation that clinical photographers should be regulated soon after. Unfortunately this did not happen within the expected timescale because the Department of Health commissioned the Foster Review and this resulted in the national review of healthcare regulation in the UK which led to the White Paper, ‘Trust, Assurance and Safety’, published in 2007. This paper in turn led to work to modernise the regulators before work could be started on taking forward any further legislation to regulate more groups of professionals.

IMI continued to be involved in progressing regulation and Carol Fleming represented the interests of medical illustrators as a member of the national working group for Extending Regulation which was one of six work groups set up to reform regulation in the UK. The work on regulatory reform is now complete and the Department of Health has committed to progress the regulation of Healthcare Scientists within the context of the ‘Modernising Scientific Careers’ programme.

A new group called the UK HCS Regulation Liaison Group has been formed to accelerate the regulation of Healthcare Scientists and to ensure that the project is well informed and effective. A key development has been the determination that this will be a UK-wide approach and the group includes officials from all four UK health departments, in addition to representatives from the voluntary registers of the five aspirant professions, the IBMS, the ACS and representatives from the HPC and NHS employers. The group is chaired by Professor Sue Hill, The Chief Scientific Officer. The group will be extended to include representatives from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Pathology, a patient representative and a representative from the Higher Education Council.

The Department of Health’s intention is now to ‘fast track’ the regulation of Healthcare Scientists and the purpose of the HCS Regulation Group will be to inform a project group that will develop the necessary policy and legislative documents required. In addition to the existing five aspirant groups who have already been recommended by the HPC for regulation (Clinical Physiologists, Clinical Technologists, Clinical Photographers, Clinical Perfusionists and Maxillofacial Prosthetic Technologists), six other groups have been identified for consideration in this first wave of HSC regulation; Genetics Technologists, Sleep Physiologists, Vascular Technologists, Critical Care Technologists, Ophthalmology and Vision Technologists and Urodynamics Technologists. It is likely that a generic protected title will be used along with the individual profession specific title. For example: Healthcare Science Practitioner – Clinical Photographer.

Work has already begun and Professor Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer said that now that four UK health departments were involved, this was an important opportunity to to “motor on” to regulation. When asked about timescales, Sue inevitably would not commit because this could be affected by so many factors but Sue explained that the legislative process was expected to take about two years and that work had already begun.

There is a great deal of work to be done in developing standards and scopes of practice, in risk modelling and undertaking impact assessments and in considering the educational issues. IMI will continue to be heavily involved in this work on behalf of its members and will continue to report activity through Council. Additionally, an update will be presented at conference in September.

In summary, we were encouraged by the proposals and by the fact that all interested parties are represented on this Liaison Group. There is obviously a lot of pressure being exerted for statutory regulation to progress at speed and finally we can see the prospect of regulation as being realistic sometime in 2011/12.

Carol Fleming and Andrew Johnson
January 2010

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Clinical photography, design and video in healthcare