Perceptions of radiography and the NHS: a qualitative study

Purpose: To identify the factors that determine the attractiveness of radiography as a career choice and the NHS as an employer to potential recruits and returners. Methods: Individual and group interviews were conducted in the East Midlands region to explore participants’ perceptions of the attractiveness of the NHS as an employer to potential radiography staff. Interviews were conducted with school pupils, radiography students, mature students, radiography assistants, agency radiographers and independent sector radiographers. Results: Eighty-eight individuals participated in the qualitative stage of the study. Analysis of the interview transcripts indicated that radiography as a career choice is perceived as boring and routine, involving high workloads and with little recognition from the general public. Working with patients is the source of considerable job satisfaction but is offset by staff shortages, lack of flexibility over working hours and a lack of consideration of family commitments in the NHS. Financial costs are highlighted as dissuading many participants from considering a career as a radiographer in the NHS or returning to work for the NHS. Greater use of open days in conjunction with more advertising of the profession is suggested as tactics to improve recruitment. Conclusions: The provision of more flexible working hours, greater consideration for family commitments and increased financial support for training are necessary to improve the attractiveness of a radiography career. NHS Human Resource Managers should consider these findings concerning the applicant and returner pools when developing strategies to address the current shortfall of radiographers.