I decided to compare radiology services in my urban teaching hospital, the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, with a remote, island setting: the Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall, Orkney. I chose the X-Ray department at the Balfour because they provide radiology services to a small population scattered over 17 islands. After doing some research into NHS hospitals in different parts of Britain, I noticed that the radiography page of the NHS Orkney web page mentioned that they took elective students.
Before approaching the Balfour, I discussed with my supervisor and training officer whether this would be an interesting and worthwhile placement. I then contacted the Balfour radiography department using the contact details on their website, explaining about the training scheme and the aims of the elective placement. They were happy to have me, and over the next few months, before arriving, we put together between us an outline plan and aims for the placement, with the proviso that things could be adjusted once I arrived.
I was in Orkney for a month in total, and met the cost of accommodation and transport partly from my own training budget and partly from a travel bursary from the British Institute of Radiology.
The team at the Balfour were incredibly friendly and welcoming and I was able to observe the work of most of the hospital departments. Key differences that I spent time investigating were the use of communication technology such as a Scotland-wide PACS (picture archiving and communication system) and teleconferencing equipment, and emergency and non-emergency patient transport between the islands and to the Scottish mainland.
It was a fantastic experience spending time somewhere completely different from where I have been training, and I’d really recommend seeing a different type of healthcare environment on the elective!
Katharine Kenny, Medical Physics STP Trainee, Churchill Hospital, Oxford