IBMS President welcomes pathology report

IBMS President welcomes pathology report
23 November 2016
A Cancer Research UK report reveals pathology services are struggling in the UK

Due to a growing population more people are being referred for tests, including those for cancer, biopsies and blood tests. However pathology staff numbers are not growing to meet this demand, which has raised a serious concern.

Access to a comprehensive diagnostic service is essential for early diagnosis of cancer and other related diseases, in order to maximise the efficacy of treatments as soon as possible. The Cancer Research UK report has recommended that action be taken now to address these workforce issues, and calls for more pathologists to be trained and employed, and for a significant expansion of the number of biomedical scientists involved in the dissection and reporting of histological samples to meet this increasing demand.

The IBMS is pleased to have been invited by Cancer Research UK to contribute to this report. IBMS President Ian Sturdgess commented,

“It is highly encouraging to read such a comprehensive and powerful report that rightly recognises the importance of pathology, and the key role of biomedical scientists, in the delivery of cancer care services for patients.

The clear recommendations for greater involvement of appropriately trained and qualified biomedical scientists in histopathological dissection and reporting alongside medical consultants is especially welcome. This innovative and flexible approach to service delivery has the potential to deliver direct benefits to patients through improved times for biopsy results.

The strong working relationship between the Institute of Biomedical Science and the Royal College of Pathologists has enabled the qualification route for this to be created, it just requires the employers to embrace the benefits of a more integrated approach to service delivery and provide the necessary support for the training of these senior scientists.”

The Cancer Research UK report estimates that there will be a shortage of consultant pathologists in the next five to ten years in all areas of pathology, with cellular pathology being the most at risk. The report recommends that pathology be included in medical education curriculum, flexible working patterns are offered to consultant pathologists on the verge of retiring, and professional bodies with pathology departments should expand the role of clinical scientists to support complex diagnostics and research.

Without changes to the education and workplace system, pathology services around the UK will increasingly struggle to cope with the demand for test results, which will result in an increase in the number of patients waiting for diagnostic test results and thus delay the diagnosis of potential illnesses and treatment.

The IBMS urges its fellow professional bodies to take action and raise awareness of this serious issue. 

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