Pathologists are at the heart of cancer screening, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment. This project will help to future proof the pathology workforce in Wales
Prof Meriel Jenney, Deputy Medical Director ― Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Histopathologists have key responsibilities across breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening currently, with further programmes expected in the near future.
Histopathology services within Wales are already experiencing increasing demand at the same time as a shortage of trained pathologists:
- 36% of the consultant pathologist workforce in Wales is over the age of 55. Should all staff aged 55 or more retire in the next five years, just 64% of the current workforce would remain in place
- In Wales, 10% of histopathology staff are ‘retired and returned’. This is twice the level of the UK average
- 17% of consultant pathologists in Wales are locums
- Just 3% of services across the UK reported that they had enough staff to meet clinical demand. In Wales, all histopathology departments have vacancies
The need to find innovative solutions to sustain histopathology services is urgent. In this project, Drs Meleri Morgan and Ashish Bansal are working with the Institute of Biomedical Science and Royal College of Pathologists to develop fast-track training to enable bio-medical scientists to undertake over 50% of histological reporting with limited supervision.
They hope to develop and test the training relatively rapidly, as it draws on the histological reporting module of the Advanced Specialist Diploma qualification. The module will then be made widely available.
If it is taken up across Wales, the resulting increase in histopathology capacity will mean that screening results can continue to be turned around as quickly as they are today and maybe even quicker in the future - even as demand increases (e.g. when the threshold age for bowel screening is reduced).
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