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President’s Blog – Professor Brendan Cooper

 I was interested to hear Dr Suzy Lishman, President of the Royal College of Pathologists  being interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning this week.

The BBC reported : NHS England said based on its latest data, 54% of women screened are getting their results on time. Delays are being blamed on cytology labs struggling to keep staff as the screening process is replaced with another primary HPV screening- which will need fewer staff.

Dr Suzy Lishman, president of the Royal College of Pathologists, said although less than 50% of women were not getting their results within two weeks, 83% were getting theirs within three weeks.

“The effect is mainly anxiety but it is very unlikely to have an effect on their health as cervical cancer can take decades to develop.”

 One consequence of the changes will be  that because of automation there is are likely to be redundancies in life scientists, but the waiting lists would come down.  It has occurred to me that really the RC Path, IBMS and related professional bodies should be working with the Academy for Healthcare Science to explore ways of re-training life scientists into other areas of Healthcare Science where there are “pressure points” in the workforce.  In my experience, I have met and worked with several previously trained life scientists who have become physiologists and delivered excellent patient facing Healthcare Science functions.  Essentially we are all scientifically trained.  We cannot easily stop the tide of innovation and change and nor should we.  We have to use the scientists we have to be flexible and forward thinking and respond to change or be lost from the scientific workforce.  Using Accredited Scientific Expertise mechanisms we can re-shape the workforce proactively and not lose the excellent scientists we’ve spent years training and nurturing. The same will be true for the geneticists in the reducing numbers of Genomics Centres in the UK whom we must utilise to delivery expertise in “under pressure”  similar areas of Healthcare Science. 

Change can either be seen as a threat or an opportunity – and we must help our scientific staff take those opportunities.




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