The world has certainly moved on at an incredible pace since my last editorial, with COVID-19 dominating all aspects of our lives. Our collective ongoing efforts in the evolving pandemic are highlighted by Professor Jo Martin. The College has pulled together resources on COVID-19 relevant to pathology and helpful for members (www.rcpath.org/coronavirus). Do please visit the hub regularly to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. We will of course revisit this topic in the next Bulletin.
In this edition, with a focus on genomics, we emphasise advances in the diagnosis of rare haemostatic disorders (pp68–70) and application of noninvasive fetal genotyping in haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) (pp71–73). Mass screening with fetal RhD typing in D negative mothers has been shown to be cost effective in supporting targeted anti-D prophylaxis. This represents a further advance in the significant success story of HDFN prevention. The challenges for pathologists around confidentiality and consent are also covered (pp65–67). There is a timely reminder that while the benefits of genomics are considerable, we must consider its limitations and promote ongoing debate (pp74–75). Clinicians also need to keep abreast of advances and be actively involved in discussions around potential applications (pp107–108).
I am delighted that our President has been elected as Vice Chair of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges (AoMRC). The Chair has summarised the role of this organisation and its collaborations influencing healthcare policy (p88). The need for us to influence healthcare decision making is more evident than ever in the current challenging times.
This issue discusses the impressive development of the medical examiner role, with benefits of the relevant College training programme signposted for senior histopathology trainees (pp101–102). On the continuing theme of training, an interesting qualitative study challenges assumptions regarding the attributes of diagnostic competence in histopathology (pp97–99).
The report on SuppoRTT as a Health Education England programme summarises efforts to help trainees return to work after maternity leave, research or illness (pp100–101). While encouraging our trainees, we also need to consider retaining retired pathologists (pp83–84), echoing the clarion call for retirees to return to work during the evolving pandemic.
The ‘Small is beautiful’ section throws a spotlight on the significant contribution of immunology across diverse clinical and laboratory roles (pp80–82). I am certainly keen to showcase the breadth and richness of roles and contributions across our many pathology specialties and look forward to receiving suggestions for future editions.
It was good to see College members successfully delivering a host of interactive pathology activities for a special ‘Medicine Late’ event at the Science Museum in London. The public, both young and old, were truly enthralled by diverse topics (p77–78). I would certainly recommend the excellent College public engagement training to pathologists of all ages. As an ‘oldie’, I greatly enjoyed this training and was supported by an enthusiastic team of clinicians and scientists in developing some fun but informative quizzes, with truly gratifying audience participation.
You will no doubt be interested in a new set of College public engagement resources highlighting the importance of vaccination called ‘Give it a Shot’ (www.rcpath.org/giveitashot). These resources focus on the MMR vaccine and will support discussions with schoolchildren and the public about what can happen if not enough people opt to have the vaccine (p76). It is an apt example of the benefits of herd immunity, a topic much discussed recently.
As part of the important College outreach role, it is good to see a key international collaboration with the Ukrainian Medical Academy underpinned with a memorandum of understanding (p93).
In the face of significant climate change, pathologists are urged to be more aware of the global impact with a call to action (pp85–86). The College is trying to minimise the environmental impact of its activities (pp84–85) and it would be helpful to hear about your own personal efforts and contributions towards sustainability.
Finally, having had recent first-hand experience of being the relative of an acutely sick family member needing admission, I just wanted to add my appreciation of NHS colleagues currently working on the frontline. Not only was I impressed with the calm efficiency, but also the kindness and compassion I encountered under exceptionally challenging circumstances. This approach, true to our collective values and no doubt being replicated across the many fronts of the NHS now, really does deserve applause.