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Two new clinicians join GIRFT radiology team to focus on IR and imaging networks

GIRFT’s work to improve radiology services across England is being further strengthened with the launch of two new national specialty reviews, focusing on Interventional Radiology and Imaging Networks.

Clinicians have been appointed to lead both workstreams and data sets are being prepared ahead of review meetings getting under way.

Interventional Radiology

Alex Barnacle has been appointed as the GIRFT clinical lead for Interventional Radiology (IR). Alex is a paediatric interventional radiologist and has been a consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children since 2006. She authored the Royal College of Radiologists’ 2022 report Improving Paediatric Interventional Radiology Services in the UK.

Under Alex’s leadership, the GIRFT review aims to develop, pilot and implement measures which can improve the provision and delivery of IR services nationally.

She said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity for our specialty and will be crucial to supporting and developing interventional radiology. I know there is much we can learn from centres across England that will strengthen the clinical expertise our IR teams deliver and drive improvements in patient care.”

The GIRFT IR review builds on work undertaken by the British Society of Interventional Radiology (BSIR) showing there are significant workforce challenges both in training and availability, with a reported 26% shortfall in IR staffing. While the review of services in England aims to explore and reduce variation across the specialty, there will be a particular focus on workforce planning and skill mix to ensure providers are maximising opportunities within their workforce to address the IR shortage.

Imaging Networks

Vicky Goh has been appointed as GIRFT Senior Clinical Advisor for Radiology, focusing on imaging networks. Vicky is an academic radiologist at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals and the head of department of cancer imaging at the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences at King’s College London.

Working closely with the NHS England Imaging Transformation Programme and the NHSE Diagnostic Digital Capability Programme (DDC), her new GIRFT role will support imaging transformation work, in particular driving engagement with the 22 imaging networks and supporting their development as they become established and mature. Face-to-face meetings will be held with the teams in each network to run through data, understand the causes of variation, develop action plans for improvement and to share good practice.

Individual network reports will follow each review visit, and an overall national report will detail common themes and make recommendations for improvement, to inform future strategic planning.

Vicky said: “I’m delighted to be appointed to this role and look forward to using the principles of GIRFT to support the development and maturity of the imaging networks. Taking GIRFT’s data-driven approach can enable us to significantly improve patient care for our specialty, by highlighting variation in outcomes, processes and efficiency and, importantly, identifying good practice which can be scaled up to other teams.”

The two new appointments help to strengthen GIRFT’s established radiology clinical team of Giles Maskell (clinical lead) and Elaine Quick (clinical advisor) who, together with former clinical lead Kath Halliday, authored the GIRFT national report for radiology (2020) following visits to more than 140 radiology units across England.

While the report recognised the issues facing the specialty – high demand, a workforce shortfall and ageing equipment – it made recommendations which put the needs and safety of patients at the heart of the service using existing resources, as well as highlighting where extra investment was needed. One of the key recommendations was for all radiology services to have access to dedicated facilities to admit and discharge day case patients for interventional procedures, to help improve IR throughput and capacity.

"Radiology is vital to almost every specialty in the NHS to ensure patients receive high-quality, effective and timely treatment, so I am delighted to welcome these two leading clinicians to GIRFT, to strengthen the programme’s work to improve services in this important area. The NHS carries out more than 120,000 radiological procedures in England every day and demand continues to increase, so I look forward to seeing the impact Alex and Vicky can have in their new roles, both for their colleagues in the workforce and for millions of patients.”

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