The standards of proficiency for radiographers
These standards came into effect on 1 September 2023, replacing previous versions.
These standards set out safe and effective practice in the professions we regulate. They are the threshold standards we consider necessary to protect members of the public.
Professionals must meet all the standards of proficiency to register with us and meet the standards relevant to their scope of practice to stay registered with us.
A note about our expectations of you
You must meet all the standards of proficiency to register with us and meet the standards relevant to your scope of practice to stay registered with us.
If your practice is called into question, we will consider these standards (and the standards of conduct, performance and ethics) in deciding what action, if any, we need to take.
The standards of proficiency complement information and guidance issued by other organisations, such as your professional body or your employer. We recognise the valuable role played by professional bodies in providing guidance and advice about good practice which can help you to meet the standards in this document.
We also expect registrants to meet the HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics and standards for continuing professional development.
Your scope of practice
Your scope of practice is the area or areas of your profession in which you have the knowledge, skills and experience to practise lawfully, safely and effectively, in a way that meets the standards and does not pose any danger to the public or to yourself.
We recognise that a registrant’s scope of practice will change over time and that the practice of experienced registrants often becomes more focused and specialised than that of newly registered colleagues. This might be because of specialisation in a certain area or with a particular client group, or a movement into roles in management, education or research. Every time you renew your registration, you will be asked to sign a declaration that you continue to meet the standards of proficiency that apply to your scope of practice.
Your particular scope of practice may mean that you are unable to continue to demonstrate that you meet all of the standards that apply for the whole of your profession.
As long as you make sure that you are practising safely and effectively within your given scope of practice and do not practise in the areas where you are not proficient to do so, this will not be a problem. If you want to move outside of your scope of practice, you should be certain that you are capable of working lawfully, safely and effectively. This means that you need to exercise personal judgement by undertaking any necessary training or gaining experience, before moving into a new area of practice.
Meeting the standards
It is important that you meet these standards and are able to practise lawfully, safely and effectively. However, we do not dictate how you should meet the standards. There is normally more than one way in which each standard can be met and the way in which you meet the standards might change over time because of improvements in technology or changes in your practice.
We often receive questions from registrants who are concerned that something they have been asked to do, a policy, or the way in which they work might mean they cannot meet the standards. They are often worried that this might have an effect on their registration.
As an autonomous professional, you need to make informed, reasoned decisions about your practice to ensure that you meet the standards that apply to you. This includes seeking advice and support from education providers, employers, colleagues, professional bodies, unions and others to ensure that the wellbeing of service users is safeguarded at all times. So long as you do this and can justify your decisions if asked to, it is very unlikely that you will not meet the standards.
We recognise that our registrants work in a range of different settings, which include direct practice, management, education, research and roles in industry. We also recognise that the use of terminology can be an emotive issue.
Our registrants work with very different people and use different terms to describe the groups that use, or are affected by, their services. Some of our registrants work with patients, others with clients and others with service users. The terms that you use will depend on how and where you work. We have used terms in these standards which we believe best reflect the groups that you work with.
In the standards of proficiency, we use phrases such as ‘understand’ and ‘know’. This is so the standards remain applicable to current registrants in maintaining their fitness to practise, as well as prospective registrants who have not yet started practising and are applying for registration for the first time.
Standards of proficiency
These standards are effective from 1 September 2023.
The standards include generic elements, which apply to all our registrants, and profession-specific elements, which are relevant to registrants belonging to one of the professions we regulate.
The standards are not hierarchical and are all equally important for practice.
- The generic standards, which apply to all professions, are written in black, bold text.
- The profession-specific standards are written in black, plain text.
- The standards specific to diagnostic or therapeutic radiographers have their own headings and are written in blue text.
At the point of registration, radiographers must be able to:
1.1 identify the limits of their practice and when to seek advice or refer to another professional or service
1.2 recognise the need to manage their own workload and resources safely and effectively, including managing the emotional burden that comes with working in a pressured environment
1.3 keep their skills and knowledge up to date and understand the importance of continuing professional development throughout their career
2.1 maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct
2.2 promote and protect the service user’s interests at all times
2.3 understand the importance of safeguarding by actively looking for signs of abuse, demonstrating understanding of relevant safeguarding processes and engaging in these processes where necessary
2.4 understand what is required of them by the Health and Care Professions Council, including, but not limited to, the standards of conduct, performance and ethics
2.5 respect and uphold the rights, dignity, values, and autonomy of service users, including their role in the assessment, diagnostic and/or therapeutic process
2.6 recognise that relationships with service users, carers and others should be based on mutual respect and trust, maintaining high standards of care in all circumstances
2.7 understand the importance of and be able to obtain valid consent, which is voluntary and informed, has due regard to capacity, is proportionate to the circumstances and is appropriately documented
2.8 understand the importance of capacity in the context of delivering care and treatment
2.9 understand the scope of a professional duty of care, and exercise that duty
2.10 understand and apply legislation, policies and guidance relevant to their profession and scope of practice
2.11 recognise the power imbalance that comes with being a healthcare professional, and ensure they do not abuse this for personal gain
2.12 practise in accordance with current legislation governing the use of ionising and non-ionising radiation for medical and other purposes
2.13 understand the legislative, policy, ethical and research frameworks that underpin, inform and influence the practice of radiography
3.1 identify anxiety and stress in themselves and recognise the potential impact on their practice
3.2 understand the importance of their own mental and physical health and wellbeing strategies in maintaining fitness to practise
3.3 understand how to take appropriate action if their health may affect their ability to practise safely and effectively, including seeking help and support when necessary
3.4 develop and adopt clear strategies for physical and mental self-care and self-awareness, to maintain a high standard of professional effectiveness and a safe working environment
4.1 recognise that they are personally responsible for, and must be able to justify, their decisions and actions
4.2 use their skills, knowledge and experience, and the information available to them, to make informed decisions and/or take action where necessary
4.3 make reasoned decisions to initiate, continue, modify or cease treatment, or the use of techniques or procedures, and record the decisions and reasoning appropriately
4.4 make and receive appropriate referrals, where necessary
4.5 exercise personal initiative
4.6 demonstrate a logical and systematic approach to problem-solving
4.7 use research, reasoning and problem-solving skills when determining appropriate actions
4.8 understand the need for active participation in training, supervision and mentoring in supporting high standards of practice, and personal and professional conduct, and the importance of demonstrating this in practice
5.1 respond appropriately to the needs of all groups and individuals in practice, recognising that this can be affected by difference of any kind including, but not limited to, protected characteristics,* intersectional experiences and cultural differences
5.2 understand equality legislation and apply it to their practice
5.3 recognise the potential impact of their own values, beliefs and personal biases (which may be unconscious) on practice and take personal action to ensure all service users and carers are treated appropriately with respect and dignity
5.4 understand the duty to make reasonable adjustments in practice and be able to make and support reasonable adjustments in their and others’ practice
5.5 recognise the characteristics and consequences of barriers to inclusion, including for socially isolated groups
5.6 actively challenge these barriers, supporting the implementation of change wherever possible
5.7 recognise that regard to equality, diversity and inclusion needs to be embedded in the application of all HCPC standards, across all areas of practice
5.8 understand the emotions, behaviours and psychosocial needs of people undergoing radiotherapy or diagnostic imaging, as well as that of their families and carers
* The Equality Act 2010 defines the protected characteristics as age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. Equivalent equality legislation in Northern Ireland protects age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.
6.1 adhere to the professional duty of confidentiality and understand when disclosure may be required
6.2 understand the principles of information and data governance and be aware of the safe and effective use of health, social care and other relevant information
6.3 recognise and respond in a timely manner to situations where it is necessary to share information to safeguard service users, carers and/or the wider public
6.4 understand the need to ensure that confidentiality is maintained in all situations in which service users rely on additional communication support (such as interpreters or translators)
6.5 recognise that the concepts of confidentiality and informed consent extend to all mediums, including illustrative clinical records such as photography, video and audio recordings and digital platforms
7.1 use effective and appropriate verbal and non-verbal skills to communicate with service users, carers, colleagues and others
7.2 communicate in English to the required standard for their profession (equivalent to level 7 of the International English Language Testing System, with no element below 6.5*)
7.3 understand the characteristics and consequences of verbal and non-verbal communication and recognise how these can be affected by difference of any kind, including, but not limited to, protected characteristics,** intersectional experiences and cultural differences
7.4 work with service users and/or their carers to facilitate the service user’s preferred role in decision-making, and provide service users and carers with the information they may need where appropriate
7.5 modify their own means of communication to address the individual communication needs and preferences of service users and carers, and remove any barriers to communication where possible
7.6 understand the need to support the communication needs of service users and carers, such as through the use of an appropriate interpreter
7.7 use information, communication and digital technologies appropriate to their practice
7.8 understand the need to provide service users or people acting on their behalf with the information necessary, in accessible formats, to enable them to make informed decisions
7.9 formulate and provide information and support for service users about their treatment and/or imaging process and procedures, with regular reappraisal of their information needs as appropriate
Diagnostic radiographers only
7.10 advise other healthcare professionals about the relevance and application of imaging modalities to the service user’s needs
7.11 provide appropriate information and support for service users throughout their diagnostic imaging examinations
Therapeutic radiographers only
7.12 advise other healthcare professionals about the relevance and application of radiotherapy and, where relevant, imaging modalities to the service user’s needs
7.13 provide appropriate information and support for service users throughout their radiotherapy treatment and care or related diagnostic imaging examinations
* The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests competence in the English language. Applicants who have qualified outside of the UK, whose first language is not English and who are not applying through the Swiss Mutual Recognition Route (SMR) must provide evidence that they have reached the necessary standard. More information is available here: Statement on English language proficiency requirements for internationally trained health and care professionals.
** The Equality Act 2010 defines the protected characteristics as age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. Equivalent equality legislation in Northern Ireland protects age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.
8.1 work in partnership with service users, carers, colleagues and others
8.2 recognise the principles and practices of other health and care professionals and systems and how they interact with their profession
8.3 understand the need to build and sustain professional relationships as both an autonomous practitioner and collaboratively as a member of a team
8.4 contribute effectively to work undertaken as part of a multi-disciplinary team
8.5 identify anxiety and stress in service users, carers and colleagues, adapting their practice and providing support where appropriate
8.6 understand the qualities, behaviours and benefits of leadership
8.7 recognise that leadership is a skill all professionals can demonstrate
8.8 identify their own leadership qualities, behaviours and approaches, taking into account the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion
8.9 demonstrate leadership behaviours appropriate to their practice
8.10 act as a role model for others
8.11 promote and engage in the learning of others
8.12 demonstrate awareness of the need to empower service users to participate in the decision-making processes related to their profession
8.13 demonstrate awareness of the need to encourage, support and mentor staff at all practitioner levels
8.14 demonstrate awareness of roles and responsibilities where work is delegated and demonstrate understanding of how this applies in practice
8.15 understand, interpret and act upon information from other healthcare professionals and service users, in order to maximise health gain whilst minimising risks to the service user (such as from radiation dose)
8.16 understand the need to involve service users in service design, service delivery, education and research
Diagnostic radiographers only
8.17 understand the need to engage service users and carers in planning and evaluating their diagnostic imaging and interventional procedures
Therapeutic radiographers only
8.18 understand the need to engage service users and carers in radiotherapy pre-treatment planning, treatment and follow-up, and where relevant in planning and evaluating their diagnostic imaging and interventional procedures
9.1 keep full, clear and accurate records in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines
9.2 manage records and all other information in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines
9.3 use digital record keeping tools, where required
10.1 understand the value of reflective practice and the need to record the outcome of such reflection to support continuous improvement
10.2 recognise the value of multi-disciplinary reviews, case conferences and other methods of review
11.1 engage in evidence-based practice
11.2 gather and use feedback and information, including qualitative and quantitative data, to evaluate the response of service users to their care
11.3 monitor and systematically evaluate the quality of practice, and maintain an effective quality management and quality assurance process working towards continual improvement
11.4 participate in quality management, including quality control, quality assurance, clinical governance and the use of appropriate outcome measures
11.5 evaluate care plans or intervention plans using recognised and appropriate outcome measures, in conjunction with the service user where possible, and revise the plans as necessary
11.6 recognise the value of gathering and using data for quality assurance and improvement programmes
11.7 understand the principles and regulatory requirements for quality control and quality assurance as they apply to their profession
11.8 understand the quality improvement processes in place relevant to their profession
12.1 understand the structure and function of the human body, together with knowledge of physical and mental health, disease, disorder and dysfunction relevant to their profession
12.2 demonstrate awareness of the principles and applications of scientific enquiry, including the evaluation of treatment efficacy and the research process
12.3 recognise the role(s) of other professions and services in health and social care and understand how they may relate to the role of radiographer</strong>
12.4 understand the structure and function of health and social care systems and services in the UK
12.5 demonstrate awareness of the philosophy and the development of the profession of radiography to inform understanding of current practice
12.6 understand the role of the radiographer and other operators in the promotion of health and health education in relation to public health, healthy living and health screening for disease detection
12.7 understand the harms and benefits of population and targeted health screening
12.8 understand the radiobiological principles on which the practice of radiography is based
12.9 understand the concept of risk vs benefit with regards to ionising radiation and non-ionising radiation, acknowledging this will differ depending on modality, and communicate this with service users, taking into consideration service user judgement
12.10 understand the philosophy and principles involved in the practice of their profession
12.11 understand and apply the principles of ionising radiation production, interaction with matter, beam modification, administration of radionuclides and radiation protection
12.12 know the physical and scientific principles on which image formation using ionising and non-ionising radiation is based
12.13 understand radiation dosimetry and the principles of dose calculation
12.14 understand the theoretical basis underpinning service user assessment prior to and during their procedure
12.15 understand the capability, applications and range of equipment used in their profession
12.16 distinguish between normal and abnormal appearances on images
12.17 know the concepts and principles involved in the practice of their profession and how these inform and direct clinical judgement and decision-making
12.18 know the pharmacology of drugs used in their profession
12.19 understand the legislation, principles and methods for the safe and effective administration of drugs used in their profession
12.20 understand the mechanisms for the administration of drugs, including intravenous and oral contrast agents
12.21 recognise and respond to adverse or abnormal reactions to medications used in relation to their profession
12.22 understand the principles of the safe storage, transportation and disposal of medicinal products used in relation to their profession
12.23 demonstrate awareness of the current developments and trends in the science and practice of radiography
12.24 understand the different communication needs, anatomy and disease processes and their manifestation in children
12.25 demonstrate awareness of the principles of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning technology, and its application to practice
Diagnostic radiographers only
12.26 understand the signs and symptoms of disease and trauma that result in referral for diagnostic imaging procedures, and their image appearances
12.27 understand the structure and function of the human body in health, disease and trauma, as well as common pathologies and mechanisms of disease and trauma, including the:
- musculoskeletal system;
- soft tissue organs;
- regional and cross-sectional anatomy of the head, neck, limbs, thorax, pelvis and abdomen; and
- cardiovascular, respiratory, genito-urinary, gastro-intestinal and neuro-endocrine systems
Therapeutic radiographers only
12.28 understand the structure and function of the human body in health and disease, including:
- regional and cross-sectional anatomy of the head, neck, limbs, thorax, pelvis and abdomen; and
- common pathologies and mechanisms of disease, with a concentration on cancer, histology, haematology and the lymphatic and immune systems
- oncology, the pathophysiology of solid and systemic malignancies;
- aetiology; and
- the management and effect of cancer
12.30 know the physiological signs and symptoms, clinical investigations and diagnostic procedures that result in referral for radiotherapy
12.31 know the biochemical science of radiation pathophysiology
12.32 understand the influence of adjuvant and neoadjuvant treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy, on radiotherapy dose prescription, timing of radiotherapy and post radiotherapy complications
12.33 understand the principles of nuclear medicine and radionuclide procedures in radiotherapy guided planning and radionuclide therapies and theragnostics
13.1 change their practice as needed to take account of new developments, technologies and changing contexts
13.2 gather appropriate information
13.3 analyse and critically evaluate the information collected
13.4 select and use appropriate assessment techniques and equipment
13.5 undertake and record a thorough, sensitive and detailed assessment
13.6 undertake or arrange investigations as appropriate
13.7 conduct appropriate assessment or monitoring procedures, treatment, therapy or other actions safely and effectively
13.8 recognise a range of research methodologies relevant to their role
13.9 recognise the value of research to the critical evaluation of practice
13.10 critically evaluate research and other evidence to inform their own practice
13.11 engage service users in research as appropriate
13.12 formulate specific and appropriate management plans including the setting of timescales
13.13 assess, monitor and care for the service user across the pathway of care relevant to their profession
13.14 undertake and record a thorough, sensitive and detailed clinical assessment, selecting and using appropriate techniques and equipment
13.15 use physical, graphical, verbal and electronic methods to collect and analyse information from a range of relevant sources, including service users’ clinical history, diagnostic images and reports, pathological tests and results, dose recording and treatment verification systems
13.16 interrogate and process data and information gathered accurately in order to conduct the procedures most appropriate to the service user’s needs
13.17 appraise image information for clinical manifestations and technical accuracy, and take further action as required
13.18 manage complex and unpredictable situations including the ability to adapt planned procedures
13.19 operate radiotherapy or diagnostic imaging equipment safely and accurately relevant to their profession
13.20 check that equipment is functioning accurately and within the specifications, and to take appropriate action in the case of faulty functioning and operation
13.21 select and explain the rationale for radiographic techniques and immobilisation procedures appropriate to the service user’s physical and disease management requirements
13.22 position and immobilise service users correctly for safe and accurate procedures
Diagnostic radiographers only
13.23 authorise and plan appropriate diagnostic imaging examinations
13.24 calculate radiation doses and exposures and record and understand the significance of radiation dose
13.25 perform a broad range of standard imaging techniques, including examinations requiring contrast agents for relevant modalities across a variety of diagnostic or screening care pathways
13.26 assist with a range of more complex diagnostic imaging techniques and interventional procedures providing radiographic support to the service user and other members of the multidisciplinary team
13.27 provide appropriate care for the range of service users and their carers before, during and after imaging examinations, minimally invasive interventional procedures and contrast agent examinations
13.28 perform a range of imaging examinations where the service user’s individual characteristics require examinations to be carried out using non-standard techniques
13.29 perform a range of techniques using mobile imaging equipment outside of a dedicated imaging room
13.30 manage and assist with imaging techniques performed on anaesthetised or unconscious patients
13.31 adjust ionising radiation exposures and image recording parameters to achieve required image quality at optimal dose for children and adults
13.32 perform a range of imaging techniques and interventions on children
13.33 use to best effect the processing and related technology supporting imaging systems
13.34 manage and assist with fluoroscopic diagnostic and interventional procedures, including those that are complex and involve the use of contrast agents
13.35 perform a broad range of computed tomographic (CT) examinations, including standard head CT examinations, and assist with CT examinations of the spine, chest and abdomen in acute trauma, and to contribute effectively to other CT studies
13.36 perform standard magnetic resonance imaging procedures
13.37 assist with ultrasound imaging procedures
13.38 assist with imaging procedures involving the use of radionuclides including PET tracers and particle emitters.
13.39 critically analyse clinical images for technical quality and suggest improvement if required
13.40 distinguish disease trauma and urgent and unexpected findings as they manifest on diagnostic images, and take direct and timely action to assist the referrer
Therapeutic radiographers only
13.41 plan appropriate radiotherapy procedures
13.42 assist in the construction of appropriate immobilisation (including beam modifying) devices, individualised to the specific needs of each service user and the treatment regime prescribed
13.43 identify organs at risk (OAR) on images to provide information for radiotherapy treatment planning
13.44 calculate dose across a range of radiation modalities, including photons, protons and electrons, utilising a treatment-planning system and verify this accordingly with a record and verification system
13.45 in relation to radiotherapy planning:
- support service users in understanding radiation exposure, risk and benefit associated with radiation exposure and doses in relation to their imaging examination;
- perform multimodality imaging techniques and the image registration process, and where appropriate contrast agent examinations, demonstrating appropriate care to service users and their carers;
- manipulate exposure and image recording parameters to optimal effect;
- perform standard Computed Tomographic (CT) and assist in performing Magnetic Resonance (MR) planning procedures; and
- use to best effect the processing and related technology supporting imaging systems
13.46 generate a treatment plan and verify treatment parameters ensuring optimal radiotherapy prescription delivery
13.47 use to best effect the image processing and related technology, including computer-based imaging systems for radiotherapy purposes
13.48 perform the full range of radiotherapy processes and techniques accurately and safely
13.49 manage and assist with fluoroscopic procedures, including those requiring the use of contrast agents
13.50 interpret and evaluate images obtained during radiotherapy planning and treatment, taking appropriate action to optimise accuracy of dose delivery to the target volume
13.51 check that the OAR dose is as planned or prescribed during treatment
13.52 localise the target volume precisely in relation to external surface and anatomical reference markings using a range of techniques including CT and MR imaging for the purpose of radiotherapy planning and delivery
13.53 critically evaluate and interpret the radiation prescription in such a way that radiotherapy is delivered accurately and reproducibly
13.54 recognise changing signs, symptoms and progression of disease, and make appropriate decisions not to treat or to review further before proceeding with treatment, including reviewing treatment imaging information
14.1 understand the need to maintain the safety of themself and others, including service users, carers and colleagues
14.2 demonstrate awareness of relevant health and safety legislation and comply with all local operational procedures and policies
14.3 work safely, including being able to select appropriate hazard control and risk management, reduction or elimination techniques, in a safe manner and in accordance with health and safety legislation
14.4 select appropriate personal protective equipment and use it correctly
14.5 establish safe environments for practice, which appropriately manage risk
14.6 understand and apply appropriate moving and handling techniques
14.7 ensure the physical safety of all individuals in the imaging/therapeutic work environment, especially with regard to radiation safety and high-strength magnetic fields
14.8 use basic life-support techniques and be able to deal with clinical emergencies
14.9 know the correct principles and applications of disinfectants, methods for sterilisation and decontamination, and for dealing with waste and spillages correctly
15.1 understand the role of their profession in health promotion, health education and preventing ill health
15.2 understand how social, economic and environmental factors (wider determinants of health) can influence a person’s health and wellbeing
15.3 empower and enable individuals (including service users and colleagues) to play a part in managing their own health
15.4 engage in occupational health, including being aware of immunisation requirements
We first published standards of proficiency for chiropodists / podiatrists when our Register opened in July 2003.
We review the standards regularly to look at how they are working and to check whether they continue to reflect current practice in the professions we regulate. Our most recent review began in 2019 and included a formal consultation and close collaboration with key stakeholders, registrants and professional bodies. The revised sets of standards for all 15 professions were formally approved by our Council in March 2022 and came into effect on 1 September 2023.
The profession-specific standards for radiographers were developed with the input of the relevant professional bodies and the views of stakeholders during our consultation work. We are confident that the standards are fit for purpose and reflect safe and effective professional practice in radiography.
As part of our commitment to ensuring the standards remain relevant to current professional practice, will continue to listen to our stakeholders and keep the standards under regular review.
This may result in updates to the standards in future, which may include corrections, amendments or changes to ensure the standards remain relevant.
This is a crucial component in fulfilling our purpose to promote excellence in the professions we regulate, and championing high quality care that the public can access safely and with confidence.
This document contains minor amendments to typographical errors, meaning it may differ slightly from previous versions published on our website.
The publication code for these standards is 20230901POLPUB RASoP.
On 1 September 2023 the updated standards of proficiency came into in effect, which included changes to the standards for all professions and changes to profession-specific standards.
To see the changes between the previous and updated sets of standards, download the comparison table for radiographers.
- Standards and guidance
- Professional standards