Bulletin July 2023 Number 203

Welcome to the July Bulletin.

The summer has been most welcome but with unwelcome travel disruptions due to a variety of reasons. Weather-related cancellation of a recent flight to Gothenburg cut short my attempts at face-to-face participation in conferences. Nevertheless, it was great to finally arrive and we were all delighted to meet and network again with colleagues from many World Health Organization regions. It will be interesting to see if we can continue with a mix of hybrid options for meeting each other. 

With so much challenging news from so many different directions coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the NHS, this issue showcases healthcare advances with the theme of ‘Pathology and patients’. Robert Smith, Lay Trustee and Chair of the College Trustee Board, has agreed to jointly introduce this important theme. The topics are wide, from medical examiners, to global immunisation, patient information provision of laboratory tests and the greater inclusion of the patient’s voice in driving high-quality research.

The College champions the work of 17 specialties and many subspecialties. These include a very active veterinary pathology discipline that actively focuses on animal health and disease, with key relationships to human health and the environment. Simon Spiro’s article highlights the work of the Zoological Society of London as a science-driven conservation society. Over the last 200 years, vital conservation has been undertaken to protect an impressive breadth of species, from the largest of animals to the tiniest of snails, which is the focus of this article.

The College has a long-standing tradition of engaging internationally on global health issues and promoting improvements in pathology.

The ‘Behind the Microscope’ exhibition at the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds provides a timely reminder that 70% of all diagnoses in patients across the NHS need pathologists. All areas of medicine benefit from pathology advances, including the ‘ground-breaking development of the germ theory and the discovery of penicillin’. Moreover, with less than 1 in 10 people aware of the critical role of histopathology, interactive displays inform families and adults about the journey to diagnosis, making complex scientific themes accessible to a diverse audience.

The College has a long-standing tradition of engaging internationally on global health issues and promoting improvements in pathology. Around 23% of College fellows and members are based outside of the UK, working in hospitals, industry, laboratories, universities, international governmental and non-governmental organisations and ministries of health. The makeup of our international membership, as of March 2023, is 9% in the Americas, 24% in Europe, 18% in the Middle East and North Africa, 26% in South East Asia, 3% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 20% in the Western Pacific. The Pathology is Global international strategy for 2023–2026 reinforces the College’s long-term commitment to raising standards in pathology training, research and practice worldwide.

Sub-Saharan Africa comprises 42 countries and, although home to only a small proportion of College members, represents a focus on dynamic partnerships and activities. These range from the Ghana lecture series, International Pathology School webinars, the ARISE programme and memoranda of understanding with postgraduate institutions including the West African College of Physicians’ Faculty of Laboratory Medicine.

A further article describes the ongoing alliance with the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, whereby pathologists and scientists based in the UK and overseas have volunteered to develop and deliver a series of freely available video lectures. The topics (including chemical pathology, haematology, histopathology [anatomical pathology], microbiology and research) are aimed at supporting better practice and patient care, tackling shared challenges facing pathology services in Ghana and more widely.

The NHS has pledged to ‘Delivering a net zero’ initiative with the aim that directly controlled emissions reach net zero by 2040.

Dr Daniel Brierley and colleagues indicate that the environmental impact of healthcare is significant, accounting for 4.4% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The NHS has pledged to ‘Delivering a net zero’ initiative with the aim that directly controlled emissions reach net zero by 2040. With sustainability in their strategic plan at Sheffield, they have assessed the consequences of single-use plastic in oral and maxillofacial pathology, with helpful lessons transferrable to other departments.

Chris Tiplady writes a regular blog for the College with a wide reach and impressive readership on topics that touch all of us. He shares his inspiration and experience, with great tips for others who may wish to write a successful blog. 

I hope this Bulletin issue is a helpful reminder, even if only in a small way, firstly of the immense contribution of pathology to the NHS in the UK, secondly of our ongoing participation in the international community and, finally, of a wider awareness of issues that affect all of us, while keeping firmly focused on patients at the heart of all we do.