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Berne's blog - June 2018

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

“Cast ne’er a clout till May be out”. If nothing else, you can rely on these blogs to keep you right as to which season we are in! Here we in June and at last we have some serious sunshine and long evenings to enjoy.

Professor Sue Hill DBE

I have to start by congratulating Professor Sue Hill, who was made a dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Personally, I am absolutely delighted for Sue and regard this as richly-deserved and happily join Brendan Cooper from the Academy in saying 100,000 thank yous to her for her years of tireless work for healthcare scientists and for the field of genomics.

Midterm Review of Progression

It has been a busy few weeks at the School and in HEE. In the School itself, second-year STP trainees with the support of their trainers - and no doubt colleagues and family too - completed their Midterm Review of Progression (MRP). The idea behind MRP is that it will help our hard-working and dedicated trainees, and their equally committed trainers, to take stock of where they have got to, finish as many competencies as possible and be comfortable about moving into the next half of the programme. This was the first MRP for all concerned so a huge thank you and well done to everyone involved.

Trainee support

The personal wellbeing of all our trainees is very important to us. We are acutely aware of the need to provide responsive support that is equitable and accessible to all trainees and trainers. We are fortunate to have Louise Ayers, whom many of you will know, leading on developing professional support for all our trainees and trainers. Louise works closely with the Professional Support Unit (PSU) here in St Chads and has been helped by Doreen Davis and Dr Julia Whitman, one of the postgraduate deans. Recently, Louise, myself and Graham Wilson, one of our Professional Leads, attended an excellent and thoughtful day in Belfast organised by the COPMeD on ways to help provide a transparent framework that will guide and support trainees and trainers in the management of training. We discussed ideas on how to deal carefully and effectively where barriers or issues arise and Louise is now drafting a Training Support Strategy for our trainees and trainers, so look out for this in the near future on our website. In the meantime, if you are experiencing difficulties in your training, the website has signposted some useful services that may be helpful for STP and HSST trainees and for apprentices.

Our talented trainees

Trainees are what it’s all about really, and I enjoyed meeting ten of our STP trainees and one of our HSST trainees at the Trainee Representative Group meeting on June 1st. Haroon Chughtai chaired it and we had open, friendly discussions ranging from use of OneFile to judicious use of social media through to getting appropriate trainee representation on Themed Boards. I also managed to nab some STP ‘volunteers’ to come with me to the Graduate Opportunities in the Health Sector Conference taking place on 28th June at Aston University in Birmingham to tell the audience about our healthcare science training programmes. Another top trainee event of note this last month included a stimulating MAHSE Research Day in Manchester where we heard some of the inspiring research being carried out by our STP trainees.

Health Education England

It was good to attend an excellent HEE ‘Clinical Leadership Development Day’ on 9th May. It was great to hear Professor Wendy Reid and Patrick Mitchell discuss multi-professional working going forward in the NHS and it is critical that we scientists are recognised as being central to these new ways of working for the benefit of patients and our colleagues. We have such a lot to offer!

I promised that I would introduce you to one of our excellent HCS commissioners in this blog and Nicola Calder is one of the best. Nicola is the Professional Lead for HCS in HEE North and has a background as a biomedical scientist. Nicola is a great supporter of HCS and the School and works tirelessly on our behalf. She looks after scientific trainees and trainers across her patch in the North and alongside Gill Creswell, her fellow Professional Lead, has produced a great newsletter for scientists across the North of England which you can view here.

Recently, Nicola has been seconded part-time as project lead to the Digital Medicine Expert Panel who are working on the timely, exciting and important ‘Topol Review’. I asked her to let us know a little bit about this review and here is what she said: “The scientist workforce has already significantly contributed to the workforce transformation required to recruit patients into the 100,000 Genomes Project and the resulting NHSE Genomic Medicine Service commissioned for 2018. The game-changing pace of development in relevant technologies such as genomics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, digitalisation and data analytics, bionanotechnology and robotics means that scientists will form a key part of the future NHS. To enable NHS staff, including healthcare scientists, to make the most of these opportunities to improve services and help ensure a sustainable NHS, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is commissioning a major independent review, led by Dr Eric Topol and facilitated by HEE. The focus is on three workstreams – AI and Robotics, Genomics and Digital Medicine and associated cross-cutting themes. The review will be based upon the best available UK and international evidence and views of experts in relevant fields, building on and accelerating the ongoing programme of work to respond to these changes within the UK’s professional regulatory and educational bodies. It will ensure that the School, through its network of scientists around the country, is inputting into the Topol Review and there is no doubt that our scientific workforce will be central to moving this incredibly important and fast moving area of medicine forward.”

Other Congratulations

It has been quite a month for healthcare scientists: Congratulations to HUCBMS on their 25th anniversary and to Ian Davies and colleagues at Stafford University for numerous awards including a Chief Scientific Officer Award as well as an Advancing Healthcare Award for their Life Sciences degree apprenticeship; brilliant work guys! Well done too to Professor Sian Ellard who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her brilliant work in setting up a world-class genomics centre in Exeter and for her amazing contribution to genomics in this country. Last, but definitely not least, to Malcolm Robinson, Chief Biomedical Scientist at Worthing Hospital, who was the winner in the Children and Young People’s Care category at the NHS Patients Awards on The One Show for setting up the one and only ‘Harvey’s Gang’.

I will finish this blog by reflecting on some of the work that the National School is involved in with our colleagues at NHS England through the Office of the CSO. It was a privilege to be present at an exciting ‘Ideas Generating’ event led by the Deputy CSO, Fiona Carragher, in May where Fiona and her team invited senior healthcare scientists from all fields and from around the country to get together with critical friends of HCS to explore themes and topics that will inform the next 5 year vision for healthcare science. The afternoon was brilliantly facilitated by the wonderful Helen Bevan, the Chief Transformation Officer at NHS England, so watch this space and the CSO website for more information on this. Finally, the CSO office has, over the last few years, set up the CSO WISE Fellowships and these inspired awards are going from strength to strength. We follow these talented young women at the School and I watch with mounting admiration and interest the development of these wonderful young female healthcare scientists and have had the pleasure of working with two of them in different guises: Dr Jo Horne, a clinical/biomedical scientist in GI histopathology and lead healthcare scientist in the University Hospital in Southampton. Jo is one of the great communicators in healthcare science and I look forward to continuing to work closely with her in the future. Dr Lisa Ayers is an immunologist and a holder of two NIHR fellowship awards. A committed clinical academic scientist, she is also one of our profession’s great communicators. Make sure you keep an eye out for a personal blog post from her about coming back into the NHS after maternity leave.

I look forward to continuing to work with NHSE and the CSO Office and together I hope that we can help support a stronger healthcare science workforce for the NHS. I will leave off now and go and enjoy what remains of a lovely June evening.

Berne