Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology


Chair Report 2021

John Pitchers FAAPT FRSPH MIBMS MIHM looks back on an extraordinary year for APTs

Well. Here we are again at subscription renewal time.

It’s difficult to believe it’s been a year since I last wrote my Chair’s report, but equally it could have been 10 years so much has happened. Last time, my report was a reassuringly normal one, filled with important but routine information regarding the Annual Educational Event, social media, education and the like – little did I know that we were literally just weeks from the declaration of a pandemic that would completely change all of our lives for over a year.

The Response to the SARS-2-CoV Pandemic

Since early 2020, AAPT members across the UK and beyond have been working tirelessly to plan for, and respond to, excess deaths arising from COVID-19. Among many other things, this has involved:

  • Introducing new ways of working, such as split team working, enhanced PPE and IPC requirements and finding new ways to support bereaved people
  • Providing technical expertise to Local Resilience Forums through Death Management/Excess Deaths Cells and After-Death Working Groups
  • Working in partnership with NHS and Local Authority Incident Management Teams to ensure surges in admissions can be safely and respectfully managed – often involving extremely long hours and heavy physical work
  • Designing, setting-up and running temporary body storage facilities, both on and off-site, and managing Government-supplied body storage
  • Reporting data to multiple different stakeholders, often several times a day
  • Fighting hard to be advocates for the deceased, whose voice can be lost in the frenetic response to an emergency
  • Managing their own personal commitments, such as home-schooling and looking after vulnerable relatives in parallel to their work commitments
  • Looking after the welfare of colleagues and supporting each other when things felt overwhelming

AAPT has also been extremely active during this time, including:

  • Co-authoring specialist guidance on PPE for mortuary and autopsy procedures with RCPath, which has subsequently been adopted as the gold-standard for all professionals working with the deceased
  • Providing technical expertise, management and personnel to the setting-up of the mortuary facility at NHS Nightingale London
  • Participating in pandemic-related virtual meetings with MPs, academics and other stakeholders, through our Associate membership of the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group
  • Providing support to both members and other stakeholders
  • Maintaining, and actually increasing, training opportunities via webinars – both AAPT-run and by securing access for members to partner events, such as those run by IBMS and RCPath
  • Undertaking engagement with the media, both traditional and new, to promote the role of the APT and raise the profession’s profile, whilst highlighting relevant issues
  • Assisting with, and advising on, changes to the delivery of L3 and L4 Diplomas, including writing the protocol for the safe resumption of practical assessments

There’s no doubt that the public and other professionals have more of an understanding of the role APTs play than they did before the pandemic, and so they should – I have never been prouder to be part of a profession that has not wavered in its extremely high level of care, in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

You should all be extremely proud.

Membership Fees

Membership fees will remain at the current rate, with no increases for any member grades.

Annual Educational Event

Sadly, as you will know, we had no choice but to cancel AEE 2020, which was due to be held in Liverpool. Whether or not AEE 2021 is able to go ahead will depend on the situation nearer the time, but we are working hard to evaluate this and will provide further updates as and when we have them.

Education and Training

Delivery of the L3 and L4 Diplomas, although disrupted, continues to move forward and we continue to engage with the centres and RSPH to ensure this remains the situation.

AAPT continues to run popular webinars, with highlights including a presentation from the President of AAPT, and now President of RCPath, Dr. Mike Osborn and his colleague Dr. Brian Hanley on a case series of autopsies on COVID-19 patients, and a presentation from Simon Spiro, Wildlife Veterinary Pathologist at Zoological Society of London entitled ‘From Spiders to Whales – PMs Across Ten Orders of Magnitude’.

A further case study webinar from Dr. Osborn is taking place on 19th April 2021, so make sure you don’t miss it!

We are currently reconfiguring the AAPT Consent Training, DVI Awareness Training and Mortuary Managers’ Study Day to enable them to be delivered remotely – please look out for updates.

AAPT Strategy 2021-2025

The launch of the AAPT strategy (2020-2024) was cancelled due to the response to the pandemic. It has, therefore been updated to run from 2021-2025 and will be launched shortly. Please look out for this publication, which will lay out our priorities for the next four years in all relevant areas of work.

Thank you all for continuing to support AAPT – please do look after yourselves and hopefully we can all meet in-person in the not too distant future!

As always, I very much encourage comments and suggestions, so please feel free to drop me a line anytime at

Stay safe,


AAPT Chair

News archive


Sponsors of