Workforce risks and opportunities: Healthcare science

A status report on the healthcare science WRO project.

Main heading

The healthcare science workforce is currently in a period of transition. Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) is at a critical stage of implementation, with several key outputs due this year and work ongoing to integrate the programme with the imminent NHS reorganisation. Following discussions with Professor Sue Hill and her team, it was decided that holding a workforce risks and opportunities (WRO) workshop for healthcare scientists would be inappropriate in this cycle.

The CfWI will work closely with the Department of Health (DH) healthcare science team over the coming months to transfer knowledge and, where appropriate, support future work and projects. Healthcare science will be fully included in subsequent WRO cycles.

MSC policy sets out to

  • develop a highly effective, integrated healthcare science workforce
  • improve workforce information and modelling tools for the healthcare science workforce
  • provide appropriately commissioned training and education for scientists
  • have consistent and proportionate regulation of healthcare scientists.

More than 40 'early adopter' organisations (representing all 10 SHAs) have been implementing and examining various aspects of the MSC programme. These sites are looking at local implementation, informing elements of the national programme. MSC aims to introduce a clear and coherent career pathway and structure for the healthcare science workforce, standardising and streamlining existing training and education arrangement.

MSC training for genetics began in 2009 in England. Learning from this pilot scheme, the majority of other training programmes will commence in the 2011/12 academic year, with the remainder to follow in 2013/14.

Other work includes:

  • the development of a ‘gold standard’ benchmark for workforce re-profiling in pathology services  – this will consider new models of care, scientific and technological progress at the departmental, regional and network levels
  • an integrated workforce planning tool
  • an improved workforce coding system for healthcare scientists, currently being designed in collaboration with the NHS Information Centre
  • the DH is aiming to establish the minimum workforce data set required for the move towards ‘any qualified provider’ of services.

The outcomes of this work will be covered in the next WRO cycle.