Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers: Resignations

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 22nd March 2019.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many biomedical scientists left hospital screening laboratories in (a) 2018 and (b) 2019; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure laboratories retain highly skilled staff.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

No figures are available specifically for biomedical scientists within screening laboratories, however, the available figures state that there were 1,505 leavers from the selected Healthcare Scientist Care Setting group in National Health Service trusts and clinical commissioning groups over the period 30 September 2017 to 30 September 2018. This staff group includes healthcare scientists within a care setting of blood sciences, cellular sciences, genetics and infection sciences.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out specific workforce actions developed by NHS Improvement and others to have positive impact for workforces, including the screening and diagnostic workforce. NHS Improvement and the Department will discuss these actions when the education and training budget for Health Education England is set in 2019. This includes a proposal to recruit an additional 1,500 clinical and diagnostic staff across seven priority specialisms between 2018 and 2021.

Professor Sir Mike Richards is leading a major review of national cancer screening programme pathways as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s renewed drive to improve care and save lives. Professor Richards’ review is due later this year.

Specifically, in relation to cervical cancer screening, to maintain the service and accommodate current staffing levels, a majority of existing pilot sites carrying out the new human papilloma virus (HPV) testing and some non-pilot sites have already converted more of their cervical screening activity to HPV primary screening, freeing up cytology capacity.

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