In July 2010, the RCOG introduced its ultrasound training programme.
At the time of the launch the RCOG issued a joint statement with the Society and College of Radiographers (SCOR), endorsed by the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS), explaining why the training programme was being introduced and how training would be delivered.
The full text of the statement is available below.
Reference links were updated in July 2019 and wording altered to recognise the programme is by now well established.
Joint RCOG/SCoR statement on ultrasound training
Updated August 2019
In 2010 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) introduced a new competency-based ultrasound training programme that forms a compulsory part of the curriculum for doctors undergoing speciality training in obstetrics and gynaecology. The College held talks with the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) and the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) on the new programme and how sonographers could most effectively support its implementation.
Sonographers have traditionally played a major role in the training of doctors in obstetric and gynaecological ultrasound and their involvement is not new. The importance of this contribution is recognised fully by the RCOG, the SCoR and BMUS. In addition, the need for sonographers to continue to contribute in this regard is recognised, as is the need for an interprofessional approach to ensure the new training programme is delivered effectively
Role of Deanery Ultrasound Coordinators and Ultrasound Education Supervisors
The RCOG programme provides for Deanery Ultrasound Coordinators, who will normally be obstetricians-gynaecologists, and local Ultrasound Educational Supervisors, who may for example be ultrasound department managers or lead sonographers. There should be local discussions between these individuals as to how RCOG training can be delivered, taking into account the number of potential trainees of all disciplines, the available workforce, the numbers already being trained within the department (including sonographer trainees), the available workforce and the available departmental capacity. There needs to be recognition that good training carries a time and financial burden and allowance will need to be made for this in the training schedule and workforce planning.
NHS Trusts and Health Boards currently involved in obstetrics/gynaecology speciality training will need to implement the RCOG’s competency-based ultrasound training programme as it forms part of the core syllabus requirements. Heads of School in every Deanery are responsible for assessing training quality and ensuring that training requirements are met in every Trust/Board, and these being met form the basis of their recognition as a training centre by the RCOG.
Resources to support the RCOG programme
The RCOG, SCOR and BMUS are very aware that there are many pressures on ultrasound departments including the shortage of sonographers (PDF), meeting service delivery and quality standards, the national screening programmes in both the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, NHS England’s Saving Babies' Lives Care Bundle v2 (PDF) and recommendations relating to the early diagnosis of cancer. An interprofessional approach including the RCOG, SCoR, Postgraduate Deaneries, Health Education England, service and departmental managers and the sonographers themselves will be necessary to ensure that the training programme is delivered effectively without causing undue strain on current service and training provision. Where ultrasound departments are expected to provide the training to support the RCOG’s requirements, the ‘local ultrasound supervisor’ may be the lead sonographer. She/he will need to confirm how many obstetrician/gynaecology trainees there are likely to be and that suitable provision has been made with regards to both the time and resources required for the proposed training, this should be done in advance of the trainees being attached to the ultrasound department.
NHS Trusts and Boards are responsible for ensuring that the necessary resources are available to deliver both the ultrasound service and training. There are centres where these matters have been resolved satisfactorily; there are others with some work to do in this respect.
The RCOG’s ultrasound training programme, as well as improving ultrasound education for trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists, will help to improve women’s health care. The role of sonographers in supporting the training programme is vital. Service demands, NHS workloads and the current shortage of sonographers need to be taken into account at regional and local levels when implementing the RCOG programme.