Consultant posts in clinical radiology: working remotely

Wednesday 17 November 2021

The pandemic has allowed many consultant clinical radiologists to work remotely for part of the working week. The consultant role is multifaceted and involves clinical leadership, training, and inter-specialty discussions on complex cases, as well as on-call duties. There should be sufficient consultant clinical radiologists physically present in the department to maintain the 'critical mass' required to support and lead imaging teams and the imaging service. 

The RCR is completely aware of the difficulty many departments have in recruiting sufficient staff to provide a comprehensive, safe clinical service and of the innovative and creative solutions needed to maintain service provision. There is, however, a belief that the complex role of a consultant clinical radiologist should not be delivered from an entirely remote working pattern. 

Although reporting on imaging and multidisciplinary team meeting (MDTM) attendance can be completed remotely, they do not represent all the elements of a consultant post, as outlined in this definition, taken from the British Medical Association's A guide to consultant job planning: 'Consultants accept ultimate responsibility for and delivery of expert clinical care, usually within a team. This includes diagnosis and management of complex cases and reflecting on and reviewing patient care activities so that quality and safety improve continuously. Consultants should also be involved in teaching, training, researching, managerial decisions, running departments and developing local services. It would not be expected that all consultants are involved in all of these activities at the same time, but rather that they are undertaken across a team of consultants at specialty/directorate level. The NHS depends on consultants to be involved in the wider management and leadership of the organisations they work in, and the NHS generally.'  

It is the RCR’s view that the complex role of a consultant clinical radiologist cannot be fulfilled entirely remotely and consultant appointments therefore require a proportion of the job plan to be delivered in person in the trust/health board premises. As such the RCR cannot support any job plan that is based entirely remotely, unless there are genuinely exceptional circumstances.