Position Statement: Undertaking Histopathological Dissection
In response to service need, and with the support from all UK health departments, the IBMS and RCPath have jointly developed and introduced a UK-wide recognised training and examination framework to enable the non-medical workforce to take on certain functions that have previously been the sole responsibility of medically qualified staff.
The Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection
Provides evidence of the practical competence and the scientific and clinical knowledge that underpins the practice of dissection of specimens from RCPath categories B & C within the tissue or system specific modules studied. It should be noted that Category A samples only require simple transfer, without dissection, and can therefore be handled by a range of staff, including those who are trained but not HCPC registered.
The award of this Diploma acknowledges expert professional skills and knowledge in histological dissection.
The acquisition of this post graduate qualification equips scientists with the knowledge and skills required to dissect a wide range of tissue samples and consequentially liberate a significant proportion of pathologist time.
The Advanced Specialist Diploma in Histological Dissection
Enables scientists to demonstrate the scientific and clinical knowledge underpinning the practice of the dissection of highly complex cases of either breast, lower gastrointestinal tract or urological pathology specimens and the practical competence required to accurately dissect all specimens whether benign or malignant within these sample types.
This qualification recognises the advanced knowledge and skills of highly experienced dissectors who are competent to handle the most complex cases, and who have extensive knowledge of the associated pathologies. The additional area of gynaecological pathology is currently being developed. The award of this Diploma acknowledges the highest levels of knowledge and expertise within the field of practice.
These qualifications provide a recognised framework for the standardisation of training and practice of scientist dissectors. These roles are widely accepted and relied on throughout the UK and demonstrate the value of a flexible scientist workforce as a means of safely managing increasing workload demands on histopathology services.
In seeking to support standardisation of scientist dissector roles and job descriptions the Institute has described the expected qualifications required for each role and the expected Agenda for Change (or equivalent) pay grade.
Summary of dissection roles
Specialist Scientist Dissector
Specialist scientist dissectors are Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered and work at a specialist level within histopathology laboratories undertaking basic tissue dissection, which includes Category B, and many of Category C specimens. Specialist dissectors would not dissect any Category D or E specimens.
The specialist dissector would have been awarded the Institute’s Specialist Diploma or equivalent qualification and may be studying for the Institute’s Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection.
The expected Agenda for Change pay band would be Band 6 (or equivalent).
Specialist scientist dissectors whose roles also include significant other elements conferring additional responsibilities may be banded at a higher level in recognition of their wider role and to reflect local circumstances.
Expert Scientist Dissector
Expert scientist dissectors undertake dissection that would include Category B and C specimens. They may also dissect a number of simpler Category D and E specimens. The expert scientist dissector is a highly experienced post graduate role and such individuals would also be involved in the training and development of the specialist scientist dissectors and also medical trainees for some specimens. They should have obtained the Institute’s Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection.
The expected Agenda for Change pay band would be Band 7 (or equivalent).
Advanced Scientist Dissector
Advanced scientist dissectors undertake dissection of specimens in Category D and E, which includes complex cancer cases, and would also be involved in the training and development of both expert and specialist scientist dissectors and medical trainees. They must have obtained the Institute’s Diploma in Expert Practice in Dissection and should also hold the Institute’s Advanced Specialist Diploma (ASD) in Specimen Dissection and be Fellows of the Institute.
The expected Agenda for Change pay band would be Band 8A (or equivalent), which would be dictated by the scope of the role and the required experience. Local policy may determine the additional requirement for an ASD.
Advanced Dissection Manager
The role of advanced dissection manager may be appropriate in laboratories where local flexibilities have expanded duties to include key elements of an 8B role; in these circumstances this would be likely to include duties that would be undertaken as part of an integrated scientist/pathologist dissection rota, including clinical audit and clinical governance. Such an individual undertakes the dissection of specimens in Category D and E, including complex cancer specimens, and would also lead and manage the dissection within a laboratory, with responsibility to the clinical head of department for clinical audit and governance of dissection. They would direct the training and development of all dissectors ensuring the delivery of a high quality dissection service. An advanced dissection manager is a very senior individual with a wide remit within dissection services and as such must have obtained the Institute’s Diploma of Expert Practice in Histological Dissection and should also hold the Institute’s Advanced Specialist Diploma in Specimen Dissection.
The expected Agenda for Change pay band would be Band 8B (or equivalent).
|Dissection Role||Dissection||Dissection Qualification||Banding (AfC)|
|Specialist Scientist Dissector||Category A, B and many of Category C||None||Band 6|
|Expert Scientist Dissector||Category B and C, some Category D and E||Diploma of Expert Practice||Band 7|
|Advanced Scientist Dissector /dissection manager||Category D and E||Advanced Specialist Diploma||
This guidance statement applies only to histological dissection qualifications and does not cover scientists undertaking histopathological reporting. However, for purposes of career structure and workforce planning it should be noted that scientists undertaking histopathological reporting are undertaking a consultant role and as such would be expected to be matched to Agenda for change Band 8c or above. Such individuals would not be expected to undertake a dissection ASD in addition to or prior to commencing reporting training.
Our voice is your voice: Request a position statement
The IBMS is open to hearing and addressing our members’ issues and representing the profession’s interests. In order to support our members and accomplish this, IBMS Chief Executive Jill Rodney and your elected Council members have put an operational procedure in place so that all IBMS members can make suggestions for statements and have their voices heard at the highest levels of their professional body.