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4. The Clinical Vascular Science Associate: A New Role for the AAA Screening Practitioner

by Helena Edlin, Manchester Royal Infirmary

A familiar position for most of you I expect; unable to recruit, not enough staff, no time to do anything else but scan!

There is an ongoing shortage of Clinical Vascular Scientists, in an ever growing field, resulting in more and more referrals, which ultimately leaves staff injured, stressed and often unfulfilled in their role. This isn’t a new problem, it’s been going on for years.

This is how we chose to tackle the problem…

 As a result of numerous attempts to recruit a trained Clinical Vascular Scientist we started to explore the idea of recruiting an ‘Assistant Vascular Scientist’ to maybe take on some of the screening tests performed in our department.

After numerous discussions and ideas, we wondered whether we could encourage one of the AAA screening practitioners to come join our team and take on our aneurysm surveillance programme, and potentially perform some ABPIs, exercise tests and toe pressures, with the aim of releasing the existing Clinical Vascular Scientists to concentrate on the more specialised scans or even do some research/audit.

A person spec and job description were written, ensuring the correct level of governance was set and advertised the post as a band 4 Vascular Screening Practitioner. There was a good response resulting in three candidates being interviewed, all of high calibre.


The position was offered to the strongest candidate who was delighted to accept.

A combination of theory and practical based training was provided and local competency-based assessments completed.

2 years later the workload had increased warranting another Vascular Screening Practitioner to be recruited. Kirsty and Claire are now valued member of the team performing aneurysm surveillance, ABPIs, exercise test and toe pressures in the department and one stop clinics. The role has also been extended to include TcPO2 measurements on patients that a toe pressure isn’t possible.

Clinical Vascular Science Associates


Kirsty and Claire are the first Clinical Vascular Science Associate Apprentices on the Level 4 Healthcare Science Apprenticeship course at Macclesfield (Vascular Units written by the SVT). The course is fully funded by the apprenticeship scheme, which, on completion, will give them a formal qualification as a Vascular Science Associate with eligibility to sign up to AHCS Associate register.

This new level within our department not only helped with our recruitment issue but has created a new entry route for Clinical Vascular Scientist to train.

For more info on the Level 4 apprenticeship units

For more info regarding the course at Macclesfield college (distance learning is being considered) contact: