Bulletin January 2022 Number 197

Hello and welcome to the first Bulletin of 2022 − our Diamond Jubilee celebrating 60 years of the College.

Founded in 1962 to develop and support the evolving specialties of pathology, the College has flourished since then owing to the hard work and professionalism of you, our members. The College continues to champion the role of all our 17 specialties and our members who work to help us deliver and develop excellence in patient care. 

Our Diamond Jubilee celebrations 

To celebrate this historic milestone we have organised a range of fantastic events throughout the year and all around the UK. From a walk along the Welsh coast and lectures in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to the Melissa Bus in North East England, a Liverpool Philharmonic concert and a Land’s End to John O’ Groats bike ride, we have many exciting events with something suitable for all members and your friends and family.  

On the day of our anniversary, 21 June, we will be hosting a whole day of celebrations at the College. This includes our 2022 Foundation Lecture, which will be given by Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam. There will also be pathology-related activities for local school students, and an exhibition of many of our specialties. Given the ongoing COVID issues most of the in-person events are taking place between Easter and Halloween, and we have also arranged online events that will be taking place throughout the year. These include virtual challenges such as runs and walks and the ‘President’s Pet Photo Competition’. It promises to be a fantastic year-long celebration of pathology that everyone can enjoy. But more than that, it will be a great opportunity to highlight the importance of pathology in patient care and the excellent work that you our members undertake for patients, the NHS and other healthcare providers. To do this, we will be inviting and involving policymakers and other stakeholders from all four nations to many of these events. We will use this opportunity to highlight the issues affecting pathology and our members, and the great and vital work you do.  

A special thanks must go to Professor Sarah Coupland and the Diamond Jubilee Team who have and continue to work tirelessly to organise these events and, very importantly, to obtain sponsorship and funding from outside the College to finance them. Thank you to all of you and to everyone involved in this great event. There will be more information about the Jubilee and our events in this and other issues of the Bulletin and in my monthly newsletter, as well as on the College website and our social media channels. I encourage everyone to get involved and celebrate your College and profession. 

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Supporting amendments to the Health and Care Bill 

Much has happened since the last Bulletin and, as always, we have been busy promoting and supporting pathology and the needs of our members and our patients. 

Significant issues around inadequate workforce in pathology and, indeed, in all medical and healthcare specialties remain. It is a problem that I as President and the College as a whole dedicate a huge amount of time and resource to trying to get addressed, since it directly affects all our working lives and the quality of care we can offer our patients. With this in mind, the College joined a coalition of over 90 organisations supporting an amendment to the Health and Care Bill tabled by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to strengthen workforce planning. Jeremy Hunt tabled this amendment to Clause 34 of the Health and Care Bill, which would require the secretary of state to publish independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers every two years consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility long-term fiscal projections. The bill has now gone to the House of Lords where we hope it will build enough support across all sections of the House to allow for inclusion in the bill. The debate is really important to show the breadth of support in the House for the workforce amendment.

Highlighting workforce issues 

In mid-December, I had an extremely productive meeting with my own local MP Ellie Reeves, Shadow Solicitor General for England and Wales. We discussed issues affecting pathologists and the provision of pathology services. We will be working together in the new year to highlight these issues to the wider shadow cabinet and we have a meeting planned with Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Ellie Reeves also plans to raise these issues with the government in Westminster through letters and questions in the Commons. I also have a meeting scheduled with Jeremy Hunt MP, current chair of the Select Committee for Health. We will discuss a variety of topics at this meeting, but the focus will be on workforce. 

‘No One’s Listening’: endorsing funding for sickle cell services 

The College and the RCPath Transfusion Medicine Specialty Advisory Committee (SAC) responded to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia report No One’s Listening following their inquiry into avoidable deaths and failures of care for sickle cell patients. We endorsed the recommendations and welcomed the call for urgent action to ensure sickle cell patients receive care at a standard to which they are entitled. The underfunding of services and inadequate levels of staffing can be a mutually reinforcing problem. As a result of the significant underfunding of sickle cell services, there are far fewer specialised nurses, doctors, psychologists and support staff that have chosen to work within this service than are needed. Individuals with sickle cell deserve care from a multidisciplinary team with specialist knowledge. Improvements to community services and support are equally important to keep patients well and out of hospital. The RCPath Transfusion Medicine SAC hopes to continue to work with the APPG to address concerns around gaps in sickle cell care, with the consensus being that the problem is currently on course to get worse. We feel it is vital that the NHS takes action to address the issues highlighted to improve the care received by all individuals affected by sickle cell. 

An update from the four nations 

Across all four nations of the UK, the College has been actively pursuing the interests of our members and working to prioritise patient care. Consultation responses on priorities in healthcare strategies have been submitted for Wales and Scotland as well as a response on the Northern Ireland Cancer Strategy with input from the Northern Ireland Regional Council.  

Northern Ireland 

In Northern Ireland, Dr Gareth McKeeman has been elected to succeed Professor Ken Mills as the new Chair of the Northern Ireland Regional Council from 18 November 2021. Welcome Gareth and thank you for taking on this important role. We were also pleased to see that the Health Minister Robin Swann MLA marked International Pathology Day by stating his commitment to delivering a modern, sustainable, world-class pathology service in Northern Ireland. The Minister said: 'Pathology services are critical to our health service and the dedication and hard work of our regional pathology workforce in Northern Ireland is second to none. I want to show my appreciation for that workforce by delivering a modern, agile and innovative pathology service to be proud of and which is fully equipped to respond to the healthcare needs of our population both now and in the future.' We very much hope to develop our relationship and to work with Robin Swann in the future. 


Dr Jonathan Kell, Chair of the Wales Regional Council, had an excellent meeting with Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales, discussing, among other things, workforce, cancer and technology. Eluned Morgan is keen to be involved in the College’s Jubilee celebrations, including attending the event in the Senedd. Dr Jonathan Kell will also be speaking on 12 January 2022 at a Westminster Health Forum event on ‘Priorities for healthcare in Wales’ focusing on post-COVID service recovery, funding, modernisation, workforce, community pharmacy, and forward planning. Vaughan Gething MS, Minster for Economy in Wales, has agreed to sponsor the 60th anniversary event in the Senedd and we are confirming the details and timing of this exciting event.  


The Scotland Symposium 2021 was held on Friday 8 October and focused on the challenges and opportunities during recovery. The symposium included presentations on recovery, COVID-19 testing in North East Scotland, pathology challenges, blood supply resilience and an RCPath Trainees’ report on the impact of COVID-19 on training. I also spoke to delegates, unfortunately only online, highlighting the College’s work and activities in Scotland. I very much hope to attend in person this year. 


We have just heard that there will be a significant investment of £120 million in LIMS/digital pathology in this financial year. We have pressed hard for investment and, while there is still much work to be done to realise the benefits of this investment, and likely more funding required in future, this feels like a signal that pathology informatics is being taken seriously.  

In England, there has been the announcement that Health Education England (HEE), NHSX and NHS Digital (NHSD) are merging into NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I). This is a major and significant reorganisation of these arm’s length bodies that will likely lead to a period of disruption within these organisations with an impact on the provision of NHS services and patient care. Hopefully any such disruption will be short-lived and the changes will bring advantages, particularly in terms of the HEE merger, including better inclusion of workforce requirements in NHS financial planning. However, there are also risks particularly in relation to HEE regarding the possible loss of a separate voice for workforce issues and in ensuring training and education budgets are not subsumed and lost into other activities. The possible effect in relation to NHSX and NHSD is less clear, but any advantages must not be at the cost of losing current functionality. The added disruption caused by undertaking this merger during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is also a worry. To highlight our thoughts and concerns, the College has signed up in support of the Academy of Medical Royal College’s statement relating to these mergers.  

Our first hybrid Annual General Meeting 

In November, we had our Annual General Meeting and our last Council meeting of 2021. These were hybrid events (a first for both) with some members attending in person and others joining online. It was great to see people face to face while the opportunity to join virtually enabled more people to ‘attend’ and take part. Given the increased ease of attendance with hybrid events, it is likely that this will be the way forward for such College activities even after the pandemic is over. We will of course continue to listen to your feedback on how we deliver such events.  

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Congratulations and thank yous 

Finally, I would like to congratulate everyone who passed their exams and whose results are published in this issue. It is a great achievement and opens the door to a fantastic career and future. As you move forward in your career, please do become involved in your College. There are opportunities for everyone and we are keen for all our members to be involved in College activities − be that at a local or national level. More information on College roles and how to become involved can be found on our website

I would also like to thank the Exams team for all their hard work in running the exams so successfully. Thank you also to the College’s Facilities and Events @ No 6 teams for their help.  

Congratulations to the following members and other colleagues who received honours in the Queen's New Year Honours for 2022: Professor Diana Anderson, MBE; Professor Nicholas Lemoine, CBE; Dr Malur Sudhanva, OBE; Professor Sir Jonathan S Nguyen-Van-Tam, Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath; Sir Paul Nurse, Companion of Honour; and Professor Sir Chris Whitty, Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. I congratulate them on their exemplary work for the benefit of patients, which is even more remarkable for having taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

2022 promises to be a great celebratory year for pathology and pathologists. Thank you all for your continuing hard work for your patients and your ongoing support for the College. I look forward to seeing many of you at the various Diamond Jubilee events this year, whether online or in person.