Bulletin July 2015 Number 171

Since the election, we have resumed lobbying on pathology-related topics, and are about to begin a programme of meetings with MPs and Ministers to ensure that policy makers are well informed and understand the vital role of pathology in health care, particularly in relation to innovation and quality.

Some difficult decisions have had to be made recently about how far and how rapidly to progress with important projects including the National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue and the implementation of the Pathology Quality Assurance Review recommendations. Further work on both of these projects will require external funding so there is currently a pause while options are discussed. As President it isn’t a very comfortable position to be in to have to limit the professional input into national initiatives, but when that input has a cost attached, I also have to think about how members’ subscriptions are spent and what can reasonably be achieved within our limited budget.

Medical Examiners

The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, made a commitment to introduce Medical Examiners in the House of Commons before the general election. I have since written and met him to discuss this and other pressing topics and am optimistic that Medical Examiners will be introduced eventually, although there is obviously still some work to be done. In particular there is a spending review taking place, which will involve the government looking at all expenditure for the next few years. We hope that the funding of the medical examiner system will be confirmed by the review and I will continue to raise the issue at every opportunity and discuss with those in a position to influence policy priorities.

Medical Innovation Bill

In the last issue I reported that the Medical Innovation Bill had failed to be passed by the last parliament and so would not progress. I thought that was the last time I would write about it. However, Lord Saatchi’s team is attempting to have the Bill passed, by hurrying it through parliament without time for proper debate. We strongly oppose this and have released statements including cosigning a letter with several other medical royal college presidents.

The Goodman Building

I attended a talk recently in which the College was described as having ‘gone into hiding’, presumably referring to our move in February from Carlton House Terrace to Prescot Street. Our current premises may be three miles east of our former home but we’re in bright, spacious offices close to excellent transport links. The building is on a main road with prominent signs, definitely not ‘in hiding’. Members are welcome at any time during the working week; there are desks, comfy chairs, free wifi and refreshments available. College business has continued as usual, with the move taking place over a weekend to minimise disruption. The majority of members will have noticed no difference at all, and those who have visited the temporary premises have found it a pleasant place to work. We may no longer have such a prestigious location but we also are no longer constrained by trying to squeeze too many staff into a listed building that we outgrew several years ago.

Progress is being made with the College’s new premises. The Goodman Building on Alie Street is just a stone’s throw from our temporary home at 21 Prescot Street. The new building was named after Roland Goodman, a wealthy sixteenth century London fishmonger and farmer, who owned land in the area. His name lives on in several streets and developments in the area. The architects, Bennett’s Associates, have developed detailed plans for the new building, including a 200-seat lecture theatre, meeting rooms and offices. There will be a well-equipped members’ area. The architects have responded to feedback from the Trustee Board and

are making the final adjustments before submitting the plans to Tower Hamlets planning department.

To minimise venue hire costs, some of the rooms in the current Alie Street building are being used for some internal meetings over the summer. If you would like to follow progress on the Goodman Building there are regular updates on the College website.

Meeting members

I have recently enjoyed trips to meet members in Belfast, Guildford and Dublin and have a programme of regional visits planned for the next few months. The annual meeting in Belfast of the Northern Ireland Regional Council and local members was particularly good and included a meeting with Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael

McBride and current trainees. It has proved surprisingly difficult to organise meetings outside London but we are planning a Council meeting and AGM in Newcastle in 2016. I am keen to talk to as many members as possible and hear their views about their priorities for the College. I have been privileged to be invited to speak at mnumerous meetings so must have had the opportunity to talk to thousands of members already– although admittedly I do sometimes bump into the same people at different meetings!

UK collaboration

One of the themes of my presidency is collaboration; forging closer working relationships between the College and other pathology organisations and professional groups. I am particularly pleased that representatives of the College, IBMS and ACB are working closely on pan-pathology issues such as the Quality Assurance Review. The recent joint Pathological Society and BDIAP meeting in Dublin was a great success. I hope that these organisations and the College will work more closely together in the future and will be exploring the possibility of joint meetings. The Pathology Alliance, a group that includes all the organisations mentioned above, and  more, continues to meet regularly to consider areas of common interest.

International collaboration

I have just got back from an interesting few days in Dublin, where the International Liaison Committee of Pathology Presidents (ILPP) met this year. The ILPP is a group made up of the Presidents of the major pathology organisations in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa. This year the meeting was hosted by Dr Peter Kelly, Dean of the Faculty of Pathology of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Topics discussed at the two-day meeting included Choosing Wisely, training in molecular

pathology, quality assurance, subspecialisation, public engagement, social media, informatics and supporting low income countries. The meeting is a valuable opportunity to share ideas, learn from other countries’ experiences and develop a network of international allies. Many of the colleges shared documents and contacts. The Royal College of Pathologists and Association of Clinical Pathologists will be hosting the 2018 meeting

in London. International collaboration is also high on the agenda because of plans underway for the second International Pathology Day, which this year will be held on November 18th. Discussions have already taken place with the ILPP and European Society of Pathology to explore ways in which other countries can raise the profile of the specialty.

Choosing Wisely

I am pleased that the College is one of four leading this international initiative in the UK, working through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Choosing Wisely is a campaign to encourage doctors and patients to talk to each other about whether investigations and treatments are appropriate for the individual patient. This ties in with what we know from the 2013 Diagnostic Atlas of Variation, which showed a huge difference in the number of tests requested by different CCGs. Although there’s likely to be significant overtesting in some areas, there’s also likely to be some undertesting. Choosing Wisely is not primarily about saving money, but about making sure that individual patients get the tests and treatment that best suits them. Each Specialty Advisory Committee has been asked to nominate investigations of questionable value so that a compendium can be compiled to encourage doctors and patients to think twice before requesting a particular test.

Lay Governance Group

Patients have been involved in the decision-making processes of the College for many years but the way in which they do this is changing. A Lay Governance Group is being established to ensure that patients’ views remain central to the work of the College. A lay member will also be appointed to the Trustee Board.

I am grateful to the former lay representatives and other patient groups who volunteered their time and expertise to help us re-establish this vital committee. We are now drawing up job descriptions and hope to advertise the roles in the near future. I look forward to letting you know how things progress.

Governance changes

Several changes have been introduced to the way the College functions over the last few months. In particular, the appointment of fellows to College positions has been made more transparent and open. All eligible fellows are now invited to apply for positions such as Committee chairmen and there is a formal process for all appointments. More transparency has also been introduced to the College’s Clinical Excellence Awards process and new guidance is being produced for future years so that the regional and national process is clear.

Chelsea Flower Show

It was a pleasure to spend a day at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, promoting the College’s stand, Plants,

The stand won a bronze medal, which is testament to the hard work of College fellow virologist Tim Wreghitt and his team. We are also grateful to Roche for their sponsorship and the Eve Appeal, a gynaecological cancer charity with whom we worked to raise the profile of the stand. Plans are already underway to develop ideas for next year’s exhibit – any budding gardeners or set designers are encouraged to get involved.


I hope you won’t mind if I take the opportunity to congratulate the pathologists and scientists from Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has become the first in the UK to receive ISO 15189 accreditation for all its pathology laboratories. Having been involved in the preparation for the assessment I know just how much hard work goes into maintaining the level of evidence required for accreditation. I was very proud to join the team from Peterborough at the House of Lords when they received their certifcate from Lord Lindsay, Chairman of UKAS.

The future of the autopsy

The College is aware of severe pressures in the coronial autopsy service in England and Wales and receives regular communications from its Fellows and other sources to support this view. At the end of June we sent out a survey to histopathology consultants and senior trainees to try to find out the extent of the problem and

to help us develop a strategy to support autopsy services. We have had a huge response to the questionnaire,

with over 500 responses to date.

Peter Hutton’s long-awaited review of forensic pathology in England and Wales has just been published and makes for interesting reading. As well as looking at forensic services, Professor Hutton makes recommendations about the coronial pathology service, which will have implications for the way in which many histopathologists work. The review’s recommendations and the results of the members’ survey will be considered together and progress reported in the next issue. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey, members’ views are vital if I am to represent you. Finally I’d like to wish you a sunny and relaxing summer. I hope you manage to take a break and spend some time with your families.


Dr Suzy Lishman