Bulletin April 2018 Number 182

This issue of The Bulletin focuses on workforce, and two surveys highlight the issues pathology is facing.

Welcome to the April Bulletin


This is the season of renewal, with gardens emerging from the chill and birds doing what they do best – singing their hearts out. But how do we make sure that our profession can continually renew itself?

It’s quite true that, artificial intelligence notwithstanding, ‘people are not our best resource, they’re our only resource’. It therefore seems appropriate that the theme for this spring issue of The Bulletin is workforce. 

Thanks to Gareth Rowlands and Fiona Adiscott, we begin with a hugely comprehensive survey of the histopathology landscape on page 78, covering service demand, consultant and SAS staff, and provision of coroners’ post mortems. Space precludes publication of all the material in The Bulletin, but the entire survey can be found on our website at www.rcpath.org/workforceplanning. We anticipate that surveys from other specialties will follow in future issues of The Bulletin. 

To maintain an adequate medical workforce for the long term, we are of course dependent on attracting trainees into our specialties. On page 87, we report a survey of haematology trainees that highlights the sheer volume of clinical work now expected of trainees, with less and less time to learn laboratory skills. Trainees in all our specialties need to feel valued and able to exercise their intellectual muscles, while being well supported. 

The interesting correspondence from Edinburgh on page 132 reminds us how histopathology trainees can be developed to the full while ensuring high-quality reporting for our patients.  

It is wonderful to see how careers for clinical and biomedical scientists continue to expand, making best use of their expertise and talents. On page 89, we hear from Jo Horne on her experience as a biomedical scientist training to take on histopathology reporting. 

This is followed by the announcement of our Workforce Lead for Clinical Scientists, in which Avril Wayte and Angela Douglas explain the objectives of the role. It’s all exciting stuff.  

Our Small is Beautiful feature on page 99 is neuropathology, contributed by Ash Merve. His passion of this fascinating branch of pathology shines through – read it, it will make you smile.   

As always, we have a full Public Engagement section, with contributions ranging from an exhibition of veterinary photography in the House of Commons to the satisfaction of being a STEM ambassador. On page 110, we include an article by the winner of the Furness Prize for Science Communication – a fascinating account, revealing that there seems to be no limit to the ways in which the world of pathology can be communicated to the wider world. Suitably inspired, we are planning National Pathology Week. This year, with the move to the new College building in the autumn and the 70th anniversary of the NHS just around the corner, there will be a different approach to NPW – please see page 93 for our plans and how you can contribute.  

Contributing to national policies through guideline writing is a highly satisfying counterpoint to the day-to-day care of individual patients. On page 102, James Neuberger and I describe our time as members of the Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), established to advise Ministers in the four UK Health departments. Membership within specific areas of expertise is by open competition, so it’s worth looking out for the advertisements.   

On page 106, we include for the first time a summary of a key clinical trial – in this case of gene therapy for haemophilia. I hope that the research committee will provide regular summaries of important studies with the potential to transform aspects of our practice. Please contact Dave Roberts if you have published, or are aware of, such a key study or trial (David.Roberts@nhsbt.nhs.uk).