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The 6 most in demand Radiology Interests for NHS Consultants

  • January 27, 2021


Radiology within the NHS is a Consultant-led specialty. Despite the pivotal role of their work and expertise in modern healthcare, the Radiologist workforce within the UK is understaffed by at least one-third – or 1,800 Consultant Radiologists!

As an international recruitment agency, BDI Resourcing recommend that Radiologists wanting to practice at Consultant level within the NHS complete the full suite of FRCR Examinations; as this is something NHS employers will look for within applications.

More specifically, the NHS is always in need of Consultant Radiologists with specialty Primary Interests. While interventional radiology is the only officially recognized sub-specialty of clinical radiology, there is a breadth of options available for further ‘specialization’, depending on your personal interest areas and previous experience. This Blog post briefly explores the 6 most in demand Radiology Primary Interests at Consultant level (based upon the Royal College Workforce census 2019).

Interventional Radiology

The only formalized sub-specialty that is recognized by the GMC is interventional radiology. Interventional radiology is a comparatively new sub-specialty of radiology, sometimes known as ‘surgical radiology’. When followed as part of a prospectively approved training programme within the NHS, the curriculum will lead to the award of CCT in Clinical Radiology with Interventional Radiology subspecialisation. The IR curriculum also includes a pathway for training in interventional Neuroradiology (INR).

Working as an Interventional Radiologist within the NHS is an incredibly rewarding and exciting career. It is a rapidly expanding subspecialty with a huge demand for new Doctors, due to the rising number of elective attendances, increased scope and complexity of procedures and greater need for out-of-hours access to service for emergency care.

Interventional Radiologists within the NHS may be expected to work in and across a wide number of settings, from more general roles in small acute hospitals to providing specialist services in tertiary centres.

According to the RCR, the field of Interventional Radiology within the NHS, must experience significant Consultant expansion within the coming years, in order to deal with current pressures and to deliver a number of important benefits.

Breast Radiology

Radiologists occupy a central role in both screening and symptomatic breast services with many opportunities for patient contact along the pathway. The radiologist is the first clinician the patient will see if they come through the screening programme.

As a Consultant Breast Radiologist within the NHS you will work as part of a large Multidisciplinary Team, closely with cancer nurse specialists, surgeons, pathologists, oncologists and geneticists. Within the radiology department you will also have a close working relationship between consultant colleagues, radiographers and advanced practitioners.

As a Breast Radiologist you will normally be required to use mammography, ultrasound and/or MRI to diagnose and treat breast related disease and also to take a breast tissue sample for pathological diagnosis if required. You will also be required to perform Breast tissues sampling using stereotactic, ultrasound or MRI guidance. You will be required to treat an array of benign diseases such as breast cysts, breast abscesses and papillomas by using ultrasound to perform aspiration and excisions.

Job Opportunities: According to the results of an NHS survey of NHS Breast Screening programme units and radiology departments (RCR, 2016), 13% of Breast Radiology posts are currently unfilled and 38% of Breast Radiologists are likely to retire by 2025! With a continued increase in the number and complexity of NHS Breast examinations being carried out, greater training and more jobs will be required.

Musculoskeletal Radiology

Musculoskeletal imaging is a subspecialty of diagnostic radiology which involves ordering and interpreting medical images of bones, joints and associated soft tissues and diagnosing injuries and disease.

The imaging methods and procedures commonly practiced within this field in the NHS include, but are not necessarily limited to, routine radiography, computed tomography, ultrasonography, radionuclide scintigraphy, magnetic resonance, arthrography, and image-guided percutaneous biopsy techniques.

Paediatric Radiology

Making a diagnosis in sick children is often extremely challenging and frequently requires imaging. Paediatric radiology differs significantly from adult radiology. Acquiring images is heavily influenced by young children’s inability to cooperate and their increased sensitivity to Radiation.

As a Consultant Paediatric radiologist within the NHS you will see children of all ages from newborns to the age of 16 and be specially trained to make your patients to feel comfortable and relaxed during any tests or scans. You will also additionally be responsible for taking part in the delivery of the Trusts Emergency Paediatric Imaging services and it’s necessary on-calls.

Gastrointestinal Radiology

Gastrointestinal and abdominal radiology plays a central role in the management of many NHS patients and thus the demand for Consultants with an interest in this field is high. The imaging methods and procedures commonly practiced within this field:

  • Abdomen X-ray
  • Barium enema / with or without air contrast
  • Barium swallow /Esophagram
  • MRI Defecography
  • CT Colonography (virtual colonoscopy)
  • Evacuation proctogram
  • Fistulagram
  • Herniography
  • Intravenous pyelogram
  • Pouchography
  • Upper GI tract study / small bowel examination
  • Vaginography
  • Retrograde voiding cystourethrogram

When working in this field of Radiology you would be working within a variety of dedicated specific MDT’s – whether it be the lower GI or Upper GI team, inflammatory bowel team, benign GI, or Colorectal.

Chest/Lung Radiology

Lung Assessment services are used thousands of times every single day within the NHS. In light of the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, Consultant Radiologists with a specific clinical interest in Chest and Lungs are more desirable than ever. The imaging methods and procedures commonly practiced within this field may include, but are not limited to:

  • bronchoscopy
  • computed tomography (CT) (Chest & Cardiac)
  • fluoroscopy procedures
  • ultrasound and Doppler
  • plain radiography (X-rays)
  • nuclear scans and tests

You can expect to work closely with both Respiratory and Cardiology Teams as well as ICU phsyicians.

Neuro/ Head and Neck

Head and Neck radiology within the NHS is an increasingly independent discipline which focuses on the scanning and diagnosis of problems in the head and neck – whether muscular, skeletal, or otherwise. Some NHS Trusts will have completely separate Head and Neck Units with dedicated Surgery, Radiology and Oncology Teams (dependent on the patient intake).

Neuro and head and neck radiologists within the NHS will be expected to work closely with teams of neurologists, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, Oncologists, ENT Doctors and maxillofacial surgeons to provide expert imaging utilising various techniques.

Working as a Head and Neck Radiologist you will likely be expected to partake in ongoing research and development of new strategies for the pre-assessment and ongoing treatment requiring Radiology services for Head and Neck Cancer.

Finding an NHS Radiology Post

The six individual Radiology specialist interests explored within this Blog are all in high demand within the NHS and the specific vacancy rate data can be found here. 

If you are an international Consultant Radiologist with a specific interest mentioned here, send your CV to: [email protected] 


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