A multi-million-pound training academy to ensure the sustainability of imaging services across Wales has officially opened.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething has today (11 February 2019) marked the official opening of the National Imaging Academy Wales by visiting the Pencoed facility to meet with the new intake of specialist trainees who will train through the Academy model of teaching.

Established with £3.4m of funding from the Welsh Government, the Academy will train the next generation of radiologists, radiographers, sonographers and imaging professionals. The Academy has been created to meet the demand gap for the imaging workforce as well as help address the rising demand and expectations of imaging services.

Situated at Pencoed Business Park, near Bridgend, the Academy’s initial focus has been to increase the capacity for radiologist training, but the Academy will pursue and offer advanced practice opportunities to healthcare professionals including radiographers and sonographers.

The Academy will also assist in extending the competency and skills of the imaging workforce with continued professional development events, which in turn, will improve service provision across Wales.

The first tranche of 14 trainees began their five-year training programme in August 2018 when the Academy first opened its doors. Nearly all of radiology trainees spend time at the Academy to take advantage of this bespoke facility.

Providing a modern, innovative, specialist training environment, the Academy will enhance the learning experience of trainees in partnership with current training provision at hospital sites throughout South Wales. Within its purpose-designed workstation training rooms, simulation suite and lecture theatre, the Academy will help deliver the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) curriculum in a dedicated and supportive multi-professional training environment.

Consultant Radiologists, Healthcare Scientists and Allied Health Professionals from across Wales will provide seminars and supervision for trainees on imaging studies, including the interpretation of X-rays, CT and MR scans. The Academy will also be a focal point for research and innovation and create a leading-edge collaborative environment for academia, industry and NHS Wales to pursue new ways of working (e.g. AI/machine learning).

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said:

“Radiologists and imaging workers play a central role in helping our medical and clinical staff deliver the best care to patients in Wales.

“The new National Imaging Academy Wales is a prime example of the Welsh Government investing in our future workforce, delivering the highest quality training in state-of-the-art facilities.”

Dr Phillip Wardle, Academy Director & Consultant Radiologist at Cwm Taf UHB, said:

“The Academy seeks to address the issues that continue to affect the imaging workforce. The National Imaging Academy Wales is the result of many years of hard work from colleagues across NHS Wales and we are delighted that it will provide a more sustainable imaging workforce well into the future.  It is already becoming a hub for diagnostic imaging in Wales as a site for collaborative work and as a research centre.

“Having sufficient diagnostic imaging is vital within our NHS and involves a highly skilled workforce, including doctors and radiographers, diagnosing, monitoring and treating conditions and injuries using images such as x-rays, CT or MRI scans but unfortunately it’s a service under enormous strain.

“The Academy will help address some of those pressures and will build on the successful training schemes delivered here in Wales.  We are already a hub for collaboration, innovation and research with many meetings and projects being hosted at the Academy site.  It’s an exciting organisation to be involved in and it’s fantastic to see so much enthusiasm from all involved to bring this Academy to where we are. NHS Wales have a training facility for diagnostic imaging to be proud of.”

The Academy has been six years in the pipeline and has involved a cross NHS party working to bring it to fruition. National Imaging Academy Wales has become the fourth Academy institution in the UK and will build on the experience of successful Radiology Academy models in Plymouth, Leeds and Norwich.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething officially opens National Imaging Academy Wales