HSST Monthly Memo (April 2024)

The HSST Monthly Memo includes the latest programme updates, events and key resources for HSST trainees and supervisors.

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Introduction from Dr Owen Driskell

A little under 71 years ago, at 11:30am on Friday 29 May 1953, two figures leaned into a bracing sub-zero wind in a precariously high and rarefied atmosphere. After edging their way upwards, toiling and climbing for over five hours from their camp below, they found they had run out of up. Hillary and Tenzing had made the summit of Everest. They shook hands and embraced. After briefly taking photographs, and leaving some small tributes, the climbers returned to the South Col safely and delivered the news. It could be done. Though that is not quite how Edmund Hilary put it. I’ll leave you to look that up.

This was the first known ascent of Everest. Many thought that it was impossible. The summit was too cold, too extreme, had too little oxygen and was too dangerous to reach. For the pioneers there had been two mountains to climb. The mountain itself and the mountain of uncertainty. A few believed it was possible and made the plans to climb both mountains. Progress had been made from previous attempts. They learned, adapted, innovated, and achieved. The learning was continuous. The best way to dress, the best way to train, the best route to take, the best equipment to take. Knowledge built up and was shared via various routes with others to slowly climb the mountain of uncertainty and increase the likelihood of success on the actual mountain.

It is important not to underestimate the uncertainty associated with being first in any situation. Many doubt things can be achieved until they are. It is often why such prominence is given to firsts. The first person to run a four minute mile, the first person to fly across the Atlantic, the first heart transplant, the first IVF baby. Human history is filled with examples of hard-won firsts that now are now accepted and opened up to wider participation.

We have had over 100 HSSTs successfully come through the programme to date. Each one learning and establishing what it is to be a Higher Specialist Scientist. Each one a trailblazer in establishing a training programme people can point to as a route to and a definition of a Consultant Clinical Scientist. Each one facing and overcoming challenges and, in many cases, achieving real firsts. This represents a growing group of scientists – along with their supervisors and examiners from their workplace, university and wider professional community – that are sharing the knowledge and best practices of their achievements to encourage participation and attainment in others.

In the decades that followed Hillary and Tensing’s ascent there were small but growing numbers of ascents by different nations and using different approaches and routes. Today, despite remaining an immense challenge, hundreds of people make bids for the summit of Everest each year. Many more successful ascents have been made with the arena opened up beyond the mountaineering elite. Yes, this is enabled by improvements in science and technology, but is also a result of the change in mindset to include, not just the belief, but the knowledge that it can be done.


Information for trainees and supervisors

School launches Sharing good practice webinar series

We are very pleased to announce the launch of the School’s new Sharing good practice webinar series. This series of webinars will seek to support healthcare scientists and healthcare science trainers in the workplace to learn from centres and colleagues that have developed good training and good clinical practice.

We can confirm the first two webinars, as follows:

AI in training and clinical practice – Tuesday 30 April 2024 – 2pm to 3pm

Please click this link for further details and to register

Approaches to the delivery of the STP – Wednesday 22 May 2024 – 10am to 11am

Please click this link for further details and to register

Both of the webinars will be recorded and will be available on our website.

If you or your network have developed practice that you feel could be valuable to share with your peers, please express an interest in sharing your practice via the form linked to below.

Click here to express an interest in contributing to our sharing good practice webinar series

Clinical Data Science PG Cert – Applications for funded places open soon

The Clinical Data Science Programme aims to empower healthcare professionals to apply data science in practice and translate data into patient benefit. NHS England (NHSE) intends to fully fund a number of places on the autumn 2024 intake of the Clinical Data Science Postgraduate Certificate programme. Applications for the 2024 intake open on 15 April.

We received a healthy number of applications from healthcare scientists in 2023 and hope to see the same in 2024. Please do pass this information around to interested colleagues.

NHSE funded places on the 2024 intake are open to staff working in, or delivering services to, the NHS in England. Applications will be welcome from applicants interested in studying the programme full-time over 1 year or part-time over 2 years.

  • The application process for funded places for the 2024 intake will be a single application to NHS England, which will be managed by the National School of Healthcare Science.
  • There will be no need to apply additionally to the university provider.
  • Applications for funded places will open on 15 April and close at 5pm on 13 May.

Find out more about the programme and how to apply for a funded place

Pathology Portal supports the training of pathology specialties

Attendees at the School’s recent Education and Training Collaborative meeting in March were treated to an update from Professor Jo Martin about the Pathology Portal. The Pathology Portal is an innovative and growing learning resource for pathology trainees and practitioners, created in partnership with the Royal College of Pathologists and NHS England’s Technology Enhanced Learning programme.

Featuring a range of online resources for learning, healthcare training and quality assurance schemes, the portal’s resources are interactive and easy to use. It allows flexible training to plug learning gaps at a local, regional and national level.

Available in the NHS Learning Hub, the portal has been designed to facilitate the training of the existing and future healthcare workforce with content that can be tailored to individual learner needs, to cover flexible and return-to-work training, as well as competence testing. The ambition for the Pathology Portal is to create a user-led interactive learning resource platform to support learning across all pathology and related disciplines.

The portal now contains well over 5000 modules all quality assured by expert editors and international faculty.

The Pathology Portal is available on the NHS Learning Hub. People with an NHS, GOV.UK or university email address can register on the Learning Hub or login with their elearning for healthcare (elfh) Hub details.

Visit the Pathology Portal

Technical Assessor opportunities with UKAS

Are you passionate about diagnostic services and ensuring the accuracy of medical results? Join UKAS as an independent Technical Assessor, alongside your existing role, helping to make a difference in quality of diagnostic services.

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is seeking dedicated Technical Assessors to support the delivery of robust assessments in various clinical settings, including medical laboratories, diagnostic imaging services, physiological services and medical physics/clinical engineering services. By joining UKAS, you’ll play a crucial role in upholding confidence in diagnostic services and results and elevating levels of patient care.

As a Technical Assessor with UKAS, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Expand your skills and expertise in your field.
  • Enhance your career alongside an existing role on a third-party contractual basis.
  • Drive levels of quality and patient outcomes in your area of expertise.
  • Gain in-depth knowledge of UKAS processes and the standards to which UKAS assess.
  • This is beneficial as both a personal CPD activity and to bring new expertise into the service where you work.

UKAS are looking for individuals with:

  • Rigorous technical/clinical knowledge in their field.
  • Understanding of relevant business systems and processes.
  • Proficiency in quality assurance and quality management principles.
  • Strong organisational and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to provide accurate reporting and empathetic feedback.

For an informal discussion about the role, please contact UKAS’s Talent Acquisition Manager, Andy Green on

Discover more about working as a Technical Assessor with UKAS and apply for this exciting opportunity


Information for supervisors

Healthcare Science Education and Training Collaborative meeting, ​​​​​​​March 2024

On Tuesday 26 March the School ran a well-attended, face-to-face Education and Training Collaborative meeting in Bristol. The day opened with a talk on the future of healthcare science by Dr Victoria Chalker, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England (NHSE). There were plenary sessions to launch the School’s new Sharing Good Practice series and featuring Professor Sheona Macleod, Director of Education and Training at NHSE speaking about the emerging NHSE educator strategy.

Further details about the day and copies of the key presentations can be downloaded from the School website

Opportunities to become an IAPS Examiner – Physiological Sciences, Physical Sciences & Bioinformatics Sciences

With the increase of HSST trainees joining the HSST programme, our IAPS assessments are growing from diet to diet. We recently held our November IAPS and can report the assessment was our highest intake of candidates to date since the assessments were created.

HSSTs across a wider number of specialisms are approaching completion of the HSST programmes. As a result, we are looking to expand the talent pool of examiners to deliver an increasing number of IAPS. Some recent achievements have been the successful recruitment of examiners for new specialisms such as Urodynamic Science and Neurophysiology.

If you are supporting a HSST trainee, becoming an IAPS examiner can give you further insight into supporting your candidates throughout the HSST programme. It will provide you with a direct understanding of what is expected from your candidates for their IAPS assessments. Workplace supervisors who have become examiners have fed back how beneficial it was to their role as a workplace supervisor.

Click here to read Peter’s experience as an IAPS Examiner

Click here to view further information on the examiner role description and eligibility criteria


Missed a previous edition of the HSST Monthly Memo?

We’ve published copies of the Monthly Memo for HSST trainees and training officers on our website.

Click here to view previous editions of the HSST Monthly Memo.

Last updated on 16th April 2024

This publication is part of HSST Monthly Memo (2024)