Bulletin January 2023 Number 201

Welcome to the first Bulletin issue of 2023 as we emerge from another hugely challenging year.

These seem to be unprecedented times for the NHS, pathology and, indeed, the wider community. More than ever before we need to refocus on what we do well for the collective good of patients while keeping the public informed and persuading policymakers to provide us with the strong support we require.

The theme of ‘Achievements and challenges’ for this issue seems appropriate and it is great to see focused articles on digital technology, veterinary pathology, the blood culture pathway and lessons learnt from the truly unprecedented situation of national blood shortages.

We have an excellent ‘On the agenda’ article on how pathologists, psychologists and other healthcare professionals assist judges in the family court with really challenging cases. Mr Justice Williams starts off by referring to the unfortunate but famous quote from a politician declaring that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts.’ The article highlights exactly why experts are vital in the protection of children and addressing complex welfare issues. Significant progress has been made but with much still to do and College members with an interest can certainly assist.

Our bumper ‘Sharing our subject’ section highlights the exemplary efforts throughout 2022 of College members, from all specialties and career stages, and College staff interacting with organisations across the UK and internationally. These collective efforts need to be applauded, with already hugely busy colleagues going the extra mile to engage patients, the public and the wider community in showcasing our subjects and encouraging inclusion of current and future generations into our many pathology specialties.

I was particularly impressed by the high quality of submissions for the College Science Communication Prize in 2022. Victoria (Kip) Heath worked with various NHS trusts and professional bodies highlighting pathology careers via the #PathologyROAR project with her videos now being a part of the Health Education England national work experience catalogue. Vinaya Gunasari led a project making patient information videos on bowel cancer and cervical screening, created by Cancer Research UK, more accessible across ethnic communities. The videos are now available to watch on YouTube. These two trainees are worthy winners with their work already leaving a legacy and no doubt inspiring others.

The highly thoughtful essay winner for the Paola Domizio undergraduate prize rightly addresses the genomics revolution. They touch on all aspects of medical research and care, starting from the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction in 1983 to wider application of more advanced techniques that are integral to so many pathology disciplines. The winner of the Hugh Platt Foundation essay prize on ‘How has pathology changed in the last 60 years?’ begins with the timely reminder that around 800 million pathology tests are performed annually in the UK, which equates to 14 tests per person in England and Wales. The fields of cancer diagnostics and infectious diseases are included as examples of how diagnostic, preventative and therapeutic applications of pathology have grown in response to the increasing demand on services with a drive to laboratory digitisation and automation.

The 2022 Pathology Summer School was highly successful as it returned to its in-person format for the first time in three years; 70 medical students from across the UK engaged in lectures and interactive breakout sessions. International Pathology Day 2022 was held as a hybrid event and explored the role of the WHO and pathologists in preparedness, readiness and outbreak response. Other topics included the provision of laboratory services in low- and middle-income settings and their crucial role in tackling global health challenges such as antimicrobial resistance. The College is an ongoing partner of the European Union-funded ARISE (African Research and Innovative Initiative for Sickle Cell Education) programme and, as part of this programme, held another highly successful train-the-trainer workshop. Over 100 practitioners from different parts of Nigeria joined training sessions towards improving the quality and capacity of laboratory services for diagnosis, prevention, treatment and monitoring of sickle cell disease.

So, after a round-up of our collective efforts within the four issues of 2022, we look forward to 2023 with a clear view to emphasising the pivotal role of pathology at the heart of all healthcare as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS. I welcome your further contributions to the Bulletin as part of this journey.