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Right-touch assurance assessment for sonographers

The Professional Standards Authority (the Authority) has today published a report assessing the risk of harm arising from the practice of sonographers.

We were commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) to analyse the evidence available under the criteria we outlined in Right-touch assurance: a methodology for assessing and assuring occupational risk of harm and provide advice on the most appropriate form of assurance for the role.

The role of a sonographer requires a high degree of skill and clinical knowledge across a range of areas and individuals often practise with significant autonomy. There are inherent risks arising from sonographers’ practices, including from misdiagnosis and misuse of ultrasound equipment, although we found little evidence of widespread harm. This may however be due to limitations in the data.

Having considered the evidence available, we have concluded that statutory regulation would need to be considered in future, if the changes to routes of entry to the profession and to the practice of sonography identified in our report materialise.

Currently, risks appear to be well controlled because most of those practising as sonographers are already regulated in other professional roles and they hold post-graduate qualifications. However, if greater numbers enter the role directly through the under-graduate route as planned, this combined with increased vulnerability and complexity of patients undergoing ultrasound procedures suggests further controls would be needed.

The full report is available here.

ENDS

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care 

Reception: 020 7389 8030

Email: Christine.Braithwaite@professionalstandards.org.uk

Email: info@professionalstandards.org.uk

Notes to the Editor

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees nine statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
  3. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  4. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  5. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
  6. Our values are at the heart of who we are and what we do. We are committed to being impartial, fair, accessible and consistent in the application of our values.
  7. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at www.professionalstandards.org.uk