March 2020

External Assessments of Registration and Specialist Portfolios

As the situation with COVID-19 is developing and requiring more stringent action in accordance with Government advice this is requiring the IBMS to take exceptional measures to ease the burden on pathology services and safeguard the health of our members.

We have received a number of enquiries regarding alternative means of verifying registration training and examining specialist portfolios and we wish to alleviate concerns by suggesting the following measures that should limit the need for face-to-face meetings and  avoid unnecessary travel.  These enable us to remain committed to ensuring that candidates who are ready for verification/examination should be able to be assessed in a fair and timely manner.  

  • We are recommending that, for the foreseeable future, verifications and examinations are carried out “virtually” if the verifier/examiner can receive the portfolio either electronically or by post.
  • We would then recommend that a viva takes place over the telephone or by Skype. This will allow the verifier/examiner to assess the work in the portfolio, follow up any areas that might require further probing and also meet the HCPC standards of education and training in completing the report forms.
  • If you decide to embrace these recommendations, please indicate this on the report form.
  • If portfolios cannot be reviewed remotely and it is possible to carry out the assessment in the standard way, we recommend that all parties should be in agreement with this.  As arrangements may be subject to last minute change we ask that train tickets are NOT booked in advance. Even though this may be cheaper the Institute does not wish to have unnecessary expenditure due to last-minute cancellations.

We recognise that even with these arrangements individuals may be concerned about delays in the process due to lack of availability of external verifiers and examiners.  This is particularly likely to occur if employers are reluctant to release staff due to pressures on the service.  We ask for your patience and understanding if this happens.  

Portfolio Training and Placements

It is also likely that internal training or placement training may be affected due to measures that may need to be taken by individuals, employers and universities to deal with the COVID-19 situation.  For example, many universities are taking measures to limit student access.  If training laboratories feel their ability to take a placement student is compromised, they must notify their university contact person at the earliest opportunity.

September 2019

Important update information for verifiers- please read

We would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who support us by undertaking verifications and examinations. The timely assessment of our next generation of biomedical scientists relies on the dedication of our verifiers and examiners. We know how difficult it can be to find the time to volunteer for verifications and examinations and we appreciate everything you do for us.

As you know, the IBMS is approved by the HCPC as an education provider of routes to registration as a biomedical scientist and, in order to maintain these, we have to continue to meet their Standards of Education and Training (SETs). The HCPC have introduced some new standards and there have been revisions to others. Feedback and examples from trainers, verifiers, our Service User, Patient & Carer Engagement Group (SUPCEG) and accredited universities suggest that our trainees are already meeting the revised standards. However, in order that we can be confident that everyone is meeting them, and we can provide evidence of this to the HCPC, we have undertaken a review of the Registration Portfolio and guidance document and are introducing mechanisms at the point of assessment (verification) to ensure that we fully capture that the standards have been met.

Your help, as our verifiers and therefore our eyes and ears, is important and will allow us to demonstrate, as part of our annual monitoring by the HCPC, that our routes to registration continue to meet the HCPC SETs.

Please take the time to read the verifier update document which describes ways these standards may be met and approaches if, during the verification, the evidence is not clear that they have been met. None of the approaches are onerous or need to result in delaying the outcome. We have detailed some of the ways they are currently being met and some actions required, for example, questions to initiate verbal discussion at verification, to satisfy you, as assessors. At this stage there should be not a requirement for further evidence.

During 2019 we conducted a minor review of the Registration Portfolio to ensure it remains fit for purpose and embedded some of the revised standards within it.  In summary, we have expanded the questions posed by the verifier to the candidate at point of verification, embedded a contacts page within the newly revised portfolio and enhanced the mandatory reflective statement to include learning with and from other professionals as well as interaction with service users. We have attached a document which highlights the new/revised standards, described how they are currently being met and explain how they are now embedded more firmly into the process.


November 2018

Version 3 Registration Portfolio expiry date

This is just a gentle reminder that the expiry date on live editions of Version 3 of the registration portfolio is December 2018. A search of our records suggests that there may be a very significant number of these portfolios which have not yet been verified so, in order to control the requests and to prevent anyone with a version 4 portfolio being disadvantaged, we are implementing the following measures:

  1. If you are planning for your version 3 portfolio to be verified we are able to accept requests for verification until the end of December 2018. Please note, as we anticipate a large volume of these requests it may take longer than usual for us to allocate a verifier and for that verification to take place.
  2. If you have a V3 portfolio but are not in a position to register your request for verification by the end of 2018 then you may apply for a V4 copy of the portfolio, at a cost of £60. If this is the case, you can transfer 30 pieces of your evidence prepared for the V3 to be showcased as the 30 pieces of evidence (3 per module) for V4.
  3. If you have a V3 portfolio that is currently dormant or will definitely not be completed we ask that you make us aware so that we can amend our records.

Rises in costs of our qualifications

We would like to offer you the chance to take advantage of the current price of all of our qualifications as they will be rising by 4% in January 2019. A full list will be available soon.

Health and character assessment

As you may be aware, earlier in the year we implemented a more robust checking of character (criminal conviction checks) in order for us to meet the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Education and Training (SET 2.4.- The admissions process must assess the suitability of applicants, including criminal conviction checks), as an education provider for the HCPC.  

At the time that the decision was made, the perception was that requiring employers to confirm DBS checks had taken place would be the most appropriate way forward; however, we received feedback from a small number of employers who felt that this was not feasible for them. We presented this feedback to the Institute’s Education and Professional Standards Committee and committee members felt that a declaration by the candidate would be appropriate. This will trigger a triage at the point of application for the registration portfolio, where anyone who feels that they have something to declare about their health or character, and which may affect their eligibility to register, could be directed towards the HCPC at that stage for further guidance.

The E&PSC members also agreed that a second declaration must take place at the point of request for verification to acknowledge if any changes to status had taken place, once again offering the opportunity to direct candidates to the HCPC for advice.

We believe that this will be a more manageable approach that firmly places the responsibility onto the candidate to declare rather than the employer to check. The Registration Portfolio application form will now additionally include a declaration to be signed by the candidate as well as the information and signature provided by the training officer/ laboratory manager.

For further information and guidance on the HCPC consideration of health and character can be found here:

October 2018

The Department for Education is currently developing the T Level qualification, as part of the Government's recent actions to reform technical education. T Levels are a 2-year technical study programme for 16 to 19 year olds that will include, among other things, a qualification and an industry placement. T Levels will give students the knowledge and practical skills needed to progress into skilled employment at level 3 and above, or higher levels of technical training.

The industry placement will be a 45-60 working day high-quality, structured placement with a relevant employer, and will be a requirement for full certification of T Levels. In the T Levels Consultation response (published in May this year) we recognised with regards to placements that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, and therefore we are committed to ensuring that placement models are reflective of current industry needs and practice.

Industry Placement Roundtables

Over the next few months, we will be looking in greater detail at each technical route, to determine what a ‘meaningful’ placement should look like. To help us to do so, and shape the policy accordingly the Department for Education will be hosting a series of 'roundtable' events for employers, employer representative bodies, and other key stakeholders. The events will be used to capture the views of employers from across each relevant industry to inform our thinking on appropriate route-specific policy for industry placements.

The events for the Health and Science Route will be held in Department for Education offices or at a local FE provider as per below: 




Thursday 1 November 2018


Department for Education

Sanctuary Buildings

Great Smith Street



Tuesday 6 November 2018


Sheffield –Address TBC

Friday 23 November 2018


Department for Education

Sanctuary Buildings

Great Smith Street



Please note that these roundtables will have limited places. If you or any colleagues are interested in attending any of the events above, please email Rebecca Francis, stating the names of individuals, their contact details and which event you wish to attend. The events do have limited capacity, but we will notify you soon as possible in advance of the meeting date to let you know whether you have been successful in securing a place, and with further details of the event.

September 2018

Reference copies and guidance documents for the new specialist portfolios are now online. Please note: the introduction of version 4 triggers an expiry limit of three years on any superseded version of a Specialist Diploma (i.e. those with version 3 will be expected to complete by September 2021).

The changes that have been made are as follows: 

  1. There is now a separate document entitled: Guidance for Candidates, Training Officers and External Examiners in the related documents section here. This document provides all the necessary advice and guidance required to complete the portfolio. It is essential that all trainers, candidates and external examiners read and understand its content.

  2. Each discipline specific portfolio has a six section summary (Introduction, Training, Evidence, Completing the record of laboratory training, End-point assessment, Completion of reports and Award) to remind the candidate of key points.

  3. The  Diploma of Biomedical Sciences has been re-named Specialist Diploma in Blood Sciences. This is made up of sections that contain modules in Clinical Biochemistry, Haematology and Transfusion Science. The award is achieved by completing two or three sections in the following combinations:

    • Clinical Biochemistry and Haematology
    • Clinical Biochemistry and Hospital Transfusion Practice
    • Clinical Biochemistry, Haematology and Hospital Transfusion Practice

    Please note: a combination of Haematology and Hospital Transfusion Practice together is not an option as you would be expected to take on the Specialist Diploma in Haematology with Hospital Transfusion Practice in this instance.

  4. There is an optional Molecular Pathology module for Cellular Pathology which is also available as a stand-alone module for those who have already completed their Specialist Diploma in Cellular Pathology.  This requires an additional stage for the end-point examination.

  5. The Specialist Diploma in Cytopathology differs from other disciplines in that it is linked to national qualifications and has modules in cervical cytology, non-cervical cytology and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).  Depth and breadth of knowledge must be achieved in a minimum of 2 out of the 3 modules in the relevant section of the portfolio (either A or B).

As before individuals completing the portfolios must be in a corporate class of IBMS membership and be working in a laboratory with Institute approval for post-registration training. Applications must be submitted by the training officer/manager, not the candidate. Applicants must retain their IBMS membership throughout their study of the Specialist Diploma. The portfolio is not available to Associate members or non-HCPC registered Licentiate members. All evidence should be gathered within three years of the application for external examination.

February 2018

As requested the education team have organised a series of training days throughout 2018.

The verifier/ examiner training days have been re-modelled and will now be a mixture of talks and workshops where experienced verifiers and examiners can share both good and bad practice with new verifiers. The attendees will be a mixture of those receiving an update and those who are new to verification and examination. We will briefly cover the process for each type of assessment (verification and examination) and updates to the processes but the expectation is that attendees will already be familiar with the documentation (see resources below). The workshops will then look at pieces of evidence and discuss best practice.

If you are interested in attending please contact

  • Tuesday 27th February - fully booked
  • Wednesday 16th May - fully booked
  • Wednesday 7th November - places available