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This is a Department of Health initiative designed to rationalise the education and training systems for the entire healthcare science sector.
The project has come to the fore during the last year, culminating in its inclusion in the Darzi report A High Quality Workforce : NHS Next Stage Review. This document examines the possible future roles, education and training pathways of doctors, nurses, midwifes, allied health professionals, dentists, healthcare scientists and a brief mention of pharmacists. The common theme is 'modernising' and the document does acknowledge the recent difficulties that have been encountered with the already launched Modernising Medical Careers. The Darzi report talks in terms of proposals and implies that the detail of each of these strategies is yet to be finalised.
It must be very encouraging to see healthcare scientists recognised as a distinct sector within this group of traditional NHS Staff. However, as is always the case the 'devil is in the detail' and also in this case the way the projects have been launched and established. There does appear to be a significant difference between the processes already proposed and adopted for the Allied Health Professions and those currently being proposed in the healthcare scientists project.
At this stage it is difficult to be clear about the detail of what is being proposed and how it would be implemented because the report is couched in terms like 'work is under way', 'supporting the development of' and 'creating a'. The conclusion identifies the next phase of the work will be to develop these elements of the programme in more detail. It is proposed that this will be done in close consultation with the scientific professions, Medical Education England, Medical Royal Colleges, trade unions, service providers, education and training commissioners and other UK health departments. It is fair to say that to date not an awful lot of that consultation has taken place and significant rumblings are growing throughout the healthcare science sector as a consequence.
Modernising Scientific Careers intends to change the qualifying and training systems in the future for all healthcare scientists which, of course, includes every biomedical scientist post. This alone makes the Darzi report essential reading for all Institute members and a hyperlink to the full report is below. However in its current form, the report raises far more questions that it answers, and a read of the proposals for the other professions certainly underlines the significant differences in approach.
A High Quality Workforce : NHS Next Stage Review
(note in particular pages 26-27)
During the last year there have been a number of presentations made to a limited number of groups and involved individuals, who were asked not to share the information they were given. This has not been a consultation process with attendees representing the views of the stakeholder organisations or allowing their views to be formally fed into the process. These presentations have now expanded to include home country meetings and during September and October a series of regional 'listening' exercises are scheduled throughout England on the dates listed below. Details of specific times and venue have not been published centrally but should be on the individual SHA websites.
Combining both the growing amount of feedback from the oral presentations together with the relevant 2 ½ pages of the Darzi report, there is probably now sufficient core information for the Institute and the Healthcare Science sector to form an initial view. It has to be said that to date the Institute specifically, and the Healthcare Science Sector, has major concerns about the proposals. Below is a synopsis of what we believe to be the proposals for the future of your profession. In recent days changes have been made to the proposals for staff in career stages 5-6, but the essence of the proposal remains unchanged. This does not exclude the possibility for further change (for better or worse) over time and if given the opportunity to attend one of the regional 'listening' sessions, members can hear and judge for themselves.