Job codes for medical physicists and clinical engineers changed after IPEM lobbying

A CHANGE to the job codes used to classify medical physicists and clinical engineers has been achieved thanks to lobbying by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

The Office for National Statistics launched the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) extension project last year. The SOC is the UK’s universal system for classifying occupations and it is reviewed and updated every 10 years.

The SOC code for medical physicists has been a cause for concern in recent years, as the National Shortage Occupation List (NSOL) had radiotherapy physicist scientists and practitioners and nuclear medicine physics practitioners under the SOC code 2217 (Medical Radiographers). This has created difficulties with some employers sponsoring Tier 2 visas as UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have not recognised that medical physics roles fall under this category. There was further confusion raised when the specific listing of these roles was removed in the October 2019 update to the NSOL, which removed reference to specific roles related to radiotherapy physics and nuclear medicine physics. This created a situation in which UKVI could argue these roles were not, in fact, listed on the NSOL, when IPEM had responded to various inquiries with sufficient data and vacancy rates and had been assured that these roles were listed.

With the launch of the SOC extension project, IPEM took the opportunity to seek clarity about the classification of medical physics.

Lobbying by Dr Jemimah Eve, IPEM’s Workforce Intelligence Unit Manager, and Professor Stephen O’Connor, IPEM’s President, has now led the ONS to change the SOC for the 2020 edition. The ONS confirmed the classification for medical physicists will be 2259 Other health professionals N.E.C. (not elsewhere classified). This is a much more suitable classification, as it confirms medical physicists’ status as healthcare professionals, essential to the provision of a cutting edge healthcare service.

The clinical engineers code has also been changed to SOC2020 group 2129: Engineering Professionals N.E.C. While IPEM believes this is an acceptable coding, a better coding would also be under health professionals N.E.C., reflecting clinical engineers’ status as a profession essential to the provision of a cutting edge healthcare service. IPEM is currently in discussions with the ONS about this.

Professor O’Connor said: ‘This really is a fantastic result and the new classification agreed for medical physicists and clinical engineers truly is worth celebrating.

‘Credit must go to Dr Eve for her persistence with the ONS over this issue as it brings much-needed clarity for everyone concerned.’