Department of Health and Social Care
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Scientists ensuring high quality care for all

Scientists ensuring high quality care for all

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 26 November 2008

Launch of consultation to modernise healthcare science careers in the NHS

The next phase of the landmark UK-wide proposals to modernise scientific careers in the NHS was launched today at the annual conference of the Department of Health's Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Sue Hill.

The four UK Health Departments have published a consultative document setting out proposals that will transform and develop the healthcare scientist workforce so that it can realise its full potential in contributing to world-class healthcare in the 21st century. In England, this follows a commitment in High Quality Care for All to modernise the career pathway for healthcare scientists.

These proposals are intended to enable healthcare scientists to rise to meet the challenges of a modern health service, supporting higher quality, safer and more effective care. They should enable healthcare scientists to develop as leaders in innovation, research and development, bringing the latest scientific and technological developments into frontline care.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"Science and innovation are at the heart of delivering high quality healthcare fit for the 21st century and healthcare scientists are at the sharp end. Crucially, they ensure safe and effective diagnostics, which underpin 80% of clinical decisions for patients. These proposals will allow the NHS to harness the skills of scientists and ensure that they are leaders, partners and practitioners in care."

Professor Sue Hill, who is responsible for the initiative, said:

"These proposals represent a bold and ambitious vision for the future of the healthcare workforce in the UK. The vision for healthcare science is of a world class workforce integral to multi-professional teams operating in a range of settings to deliver high quality innovative patient care. The healthcare scientist workforce will also deliver excellence in knowledge creation, innovation and service improvement. It will embrace and lead research and development, continually evaluating clinical practice and care delivery models."

The proposals outlined in the document have built upon feedback on the proposed model from over 3000 stakeholders throughout the UK.

Achievement of this vision will require a transformation of healthcare science careers, supported by new education and training programmes, which will deliver improved benefits for patients, for employers and health commissioners, for the healthcare scientist workforce and for health services.

The MSC programme is designed to offer a consistent and clear framework for modernisation of the healthcare scientist workforce across the four countries of the UK, whilst taking account of differing organisational, service, education and funding arrangements. It will make career progression clearer, easier and more flexible. In England, the proposals are part of the implementation plans resulting from Next Stage Review's A High Quality Workforce.

Note to Editors:

The Future of the Healthcare Scientist workforce - Modernising Scientific Careers: The Next Steps consultation can be accessed on

The healthcare science workforce totals over 55,000 people and comprises approximately 5 per cent of the publicly funded healthcare workforce in the UK. Their skill base stretches across some 50 scientific disciplines that contribute to 80% of clinical decisions in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Its work is at the heart of safe and effective care for patients, to which they make a key and often unique contribution, though:

* delivering tests on patients which underpin most clinical decisions
- developing and using technology to improve care for priority groups: older people, women and children, patients with mental health problems and the acutely ill
- finding technological solutions to delivering high quality care closer to patients' homes.

The consultation period will run until 27 February 2009 and the document and online response can be found at

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