Retention of radiographers in the NHS: Influencing factors across the career trajectory

Radiography (Lond). 2023 Jan;29(1):76-83. doi: 10.1016/j.radi.2022.10.003. Epub 2022 Oct 27.


Introduction: In order to meet the rising demands for imaging and radiotherapy services, the chronic workforce deficits experienced in many countries must be addressed. Improving workforce retention is essential; factors influencing radiographer attrition from the NHS have been previously reported as challenging working patterns, lack of flexibility in working patterns and lack of timely career progression and CPD. This article explores how these influencing factors for radiographers to leave the NHS change at different stages of the career trajectory.

Methods: A qualitative research design using framework analysis explored via semi-structured telephone interviews (n = 44) the perspectives of radiography managers, radiographers who have left the NHS, and those considering leaving. Purposive sampling ensured representation across radiography disciplines, geographical and organisational diversity, and stages of career.

Results: The application of Generation Theory revealed how the emphasis on the influencing factors to leave or remain within the NHS changes across the working life of radiographers. Early career radiographers were found to be a more transient workforce leaving for increased career opportunities, mid-career radiographers were more likely to leave due to the lack of progression and CPD and late career radiographers due to the inflexibility of working patterns and conditions. It is imperative managers consider the needs and requirements of each generation of radiographers to improve radiographer retention.

Conclusions: The different needs between the generations of radiographers should be viewed in terms of the strengths that they may bring to the workplace, rather than the challenges that they may pose. This generational timeline does not stand still and the learning is a continuous process.

Impact on practice: Recommendations are presented which will be a catalyst for sharing of best practice between radiology and radiotherapy centres.

Keywords: Career progression; Continuing professional development; Flexible working; Generational theory; Workforce Retention.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Radiography
  • Radiology*
  • State Medicine*