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Responsibilities of the Medical Physics Department

The Medical Physics Department is responsible for the commissioning and safe use of machines which emit radiation, such as:

  • linear accelerators, simulators and computed tomography (CT) scanners used in radiotherapy
  • gamma cameras and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
  • dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scanners used in nuclear medicine

The department is also responsible for the safety of X-ray machines used in radiology, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and lasers used in many areas of the hospital. Overall, Medical Physics is responsible for over £15,000,000 worth of equipment throughout the Trust.

Staff are also involved in a wide range of direct patient-orientated activities, including:

  • carrying out diagnostic scans on patients
  • planning patient treatments
  • assisting in brachytherapy implants
  • making bespoke immobilization shells

Medical Physics also has teaching responsibilities for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) staff and university students. For example, staff teach on several MSc courses in physics and oncology, and on clinical oncology and diagnostic radiology FRCR courses. The department also provides local and national courses on radiation safety and other topics.

Medical Physics has a primary clinical service function, but the role of clinical scientists and clinical technologists in the health services includes a significant research and development component. There are two reasons for this:

  • Excellence in any clinical area is only maintained by the process of continuing reappraisal, as well as the search for and application of new knowledge
  • Secondly, in times of recruitment and retention difficulty, the presence of active research groups encourages retention and aids recruitment

Last reviewed: 22 May 2023