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F. Vermeersch, EAN Chairperson, P. Croüail, EAN Vice-Chairperson and P. Shaw, EAN Secretary

This issue of the Newsletter is almost wholly devoted to the implementation of optimisation in the medical sector, which faces a number of new challenges: the rapid development of modern technologies and procedures involving ionising radiation; a significant increases in patient doses worldwide; associated increases in occupational exposures; and the occurrence of serious radiation incidents and accidents. With these in mind, the aims of the 13th European ALARA Workshop (“ALARA and the Medical sector”) that was recently organised in Norway (7-10 June 2011) with the help of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, were:

  • To consider how the ALARA principle can be better implemented in the medical sector, with regard to both patient and staff exposures from diagnostic and therapeutic uses of ionising radiation.
  • To bring together relevant European medical professionals, networks and other stakeholders working with the ALARA principle, to exchange practical ideas and experiences, and to identify further improvements.

As with previous workshops, half the programme was devoted to presentations, and half to Working Group discussions and their findings. There were 69 participants from 20 different countries, and a total of 29 oral presentations and 2 posters arranged within the following sessions:

  • Introduction and scene-setting – International organisations, European societies and networks
  • Tools for ALARA implementation in the medical sector
  • Practical ALARA implementation in the medical sector
  • ALARA culture in the medical sector
  • ALARA competence and skills in the medical sector

Two afternoon sessions were set aside for Working Group discussions, based on the following topic areas:

  • Challenges for the optimisation of patient and staff radiation protection in the medical sector (2 working groups)
  • Policies and tools for implementing ALARA in the medical sector
  • Education, training and communication to improve ALARA in the medical sector
  • Technical developments and quality control in the implementation of the ALARA principle

On the final day, the reports from the five working groups were presented and discussed, and form the workshop conclusions and recommendations described below. Individual presentations (slides), and the working group reports, are available to download from the EAN website (http://www.eu-alara.net/).

At large amount of information was presented at the workshop, and it soon became clear that all the ALARA challenges facing the medical sector could not be addressed in a 3 day workshop. It was also noted that there was relatively little attention was paid to radiotherapy. However, some key themes and issues did emerge, and these are summarised below from an EAN perspective.

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