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Watch Sharon Ely, a Radiation Protection Adviser, and Andrew Gulson, a Medical Physics Expert, discuss their roles.
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I’m here today with Sharon Ely and Andrew Gulson who work on our team. Sharon is an RPA and Andrew is an MPE. Sharon, tell me something about your role. For instance, what does RPA stand for? RPA stands for Radiation Protection Advisor. In the UK, an RPA is a recognised expert who gives advice on radiation safety in the workplace. My role is to advise employers on how best to comply with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017. This includes giving practical advice on the radiation protection measures necessary to protect staff and members of the public. I may also help with things like drafting a radiation risk assessment and local rules for work with dental X-ray equipment.
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So why would a dental practice need to talk to an RPA? The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 require all employers who work with ionising radiation to appoint an RPA. The regulations also specify some matters that you must consult your RPA about, most notably whenever you wish to add a new X-ray set at your practice. One of my jobs is to look at the plans and advise on what radiation protection measures are needed. Is there anything that an employer should look out for when they’re selecting an RPA? The employer should make sure that the intended RPA is appropriately certificated and, very importantly, that the RPA is suitable to give advice on working with dental X-ray equipment.
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RPAs advise across a wide range of sectors in industry, research and medicine, and it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that they choose a person or an organisation with the right experience. Thank you, Sharon. Now, turning to Andrew. Andrew, tell me what an MPE is and what the role entails. MPE stands for Medical Physics Expert. In the UK, an MPE is a recognised expert in the application of radiation physics to medical exposures. In general, my role is to give advice on compliance with the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017, IRMER17. So why would a dental practise need to consult with an MPE?
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IRMER17 requires any employer that carries out medical exposures to appoint an MPE to give advice on equipment, quality assurance, and optimization of patient doses, and other matters. For instance, as an MPE, I’ll review the performance of X-ray equipment to make sure it meets current standards, and that radiation doses to patients are as low as reasonably practicable. I’m also there to answer any questions the employer may have on these regulations and to help them get all the necessary radiography procedures in place. Is there anything that the employer should look out for when selecting an MPE?
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Yeah, as with the RPA, the employer should make sure that the MPE is appropriately certificated and is suitable to advise on working with dental X-ray equipment. Sometimes the MPE and RPA can be the same person, but this isn’t always the case. Thank you both very much. That’s been very informative.

In the above video, Sharon Ely (a Radiation Protection Adviser) and Andrew Gulson (a Medical Physics Expert) are interviewed about their roles.

Sharon and Andrew discuss their roles and how they advise dental practices about the ionising radiation regulations. They discuss what they might be involved in within the practice and cover what an employer should be looking for when filling these roles.

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Dental Radiography: Radiation Protection in Dental Practice

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