Pathology Facts and Figures

What is pathology?

Pathology is the study of disease and is involved in 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS. The work of pathologists and scientists is vital for efficient and effective healthcare. Working in hospitals and the community, they are involved in preventing, diagnosing, treating and monitoring diseases to keep people as healthy as possible. 

The Royal College of Pathologists

The Royal College of Pathologists is a charity with over 11,000 members worldwide. The majority of members are doctors and scientists working in hospitals and universities in the UK.

The College oversees the training of pathologists and scientists working in 19 different specialties, which include cellular pathology, haematology, clinical biochemistry and medical microbiology.

Although some pathologists work in laboratories, many work directly with patients in hospitals and the community.

Pathologists play an important role in disease diagnosis, prevention, treatment and monitoring. If you have ever had a blood test, cervical smear or tissue biopsy, a pathologist will have been involved in your care.

In the UK alone pathologists:

• Are involved in over 70% of all diagnoses in the NHS
• Perform over 900 million tests each year
• Send 50m electronic reports to GPs every year
• Carry out 121,000 autopsies each year


Our mission statement

The College is committed to promoting excellence in the study, research and practice of pathology and is responsible for maintaining the highest standards through training, assessments, examinations and professional development, for the benefit of the public.

As a College we are committed to adapting to the changes in the health service. We maintain strong links with Health Education England and their equivalents in the devolved nations, revising our training and education programmes to equip the consultants of tomorrow to deliver continuing improvement in clinical practice.

We engage our members and Government, opinion formers and decision-makers to support efficient, effective and sustainable pathology services nationally and internationally.

Inspiring the pathologists of the future is vital to deliver first-class patient services. We will work to boost the understanding of the essential contribution pathologists make to the range of clinical disciplines and healthcare settings.

In the last year the College has:

• examined 1,300 individuals exam results and supported more than 800 trainees
• organised 366 College assessors and reviewed 175 job descriptions
• raised concerns about the Medical Innovation Bill that would have damaged patient care
• secured a commitment from the Health Secretary to deliver the long-delayed national system of national medical examiners
• committed to opening a new examination centre in Jordan, the first of a regional network in the Middle East and North Africa
• continued to build capacity in some of the poorest countries through LabSkills Africa
• with the BBC, delivered the Blood and Bugs First World War commemoration road shows to 25,000 people in eight UK cities
• supported 229 public engagement events during National Pathology Week across the country
• 366 College representatives on consultant advisory appointment committees
• completed 23 National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) guideline consultations and; contributed to an additional 54.