Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology

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AAPT response to MSC consultation

The AAPT were approached, along with all other stakeholder professional bodies, by the Department of Health to respond to the “Future of the Healthcare Science Workforce: Modernising Scientific Careers, the Next Steps” Consultation.



Background

The AAPT were approached, along with all other stakeholder professional bodies, by the Department of Health to respond to the “Future of the Healthcare Science Workforce: Modernising Scientific Careers, the Next Steps” Consultation.

The AAPT then requested comments from all APTs, members and non, in order to help formulate its response.

The AAPT response

The AAPT ranked workforce planning and education & training as the most pressing issue for the profession. The AAPT believe that statutory regulation of current aspirant HCS disciplines needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency and the MSC programme should not add additional delays to any processes that are currently underway.

Workforce planners need to have a better understanding of the HCS workforce and roles.

The AAPT feel that the APT workforce should be strategically placed for the future and that their workload should be more regionalised rather than the currently fragmented and variable approach to the examination and care of deceased patients.
We feel that scopes of practice between current professional groups should be reviewed as there is at present cross over for some of the disciplines; regarding APTs this is most notable with the procurement function of Tissue Bankers and the delivery of bereavement support and care services.

With the ever increasing threat of global terrorism and national excess death planning the AAPT are mindful that workforce planners have not yet considered the issues of local, regional and national APT numbers being a factor in planning for these responses, where as regional and national emergency planning has begun to look at this issue.

The AAPT feel that by continuing to modernise the APT workforce in partnership with MSC and other stakeholders we will be better placed to address the issues of standardising education, training and standards of proficiency across the different employment sectors and more importantly be able to provide the public with the reassurance that the healthcare scientists caring for the nations deceased are fit to practice, competent and regulated practitioners. 

There may also be an opportunity to increase in the amount of research performed with respect to deceased patients and their tissues. The healthcare scientists who work within the area of Anatomical Pathology will be better equipped and qualified to become more actively involved in, or conduct, R&D projects as the profession will be underpinned by sound education & training combined with the experiential skills required to interact with the bereaved in a suitable manner.

The AAPT supports the Federation for Healthcare Science (FHCS) in its comments regarding:

  • The opportunity to align the UK workforce with international best practice and to provide a lead for developing HCS careers internationally
  • The educational programme to be developed to be in line with the Bologna agreement

The AAPT feel that MSC career progression must allow for both the academic and experiential modes of progression in order to not disadvantage those who choose not to enter academia at a younger age but to enter the workforce. We feel very strongly that the basis for the point of statutory regulation of a healthcare professional should be based on the need to protect the public and not on academic achievement alone.

The AAPT also agrees with the comments made by FHCS that:

  • The MSC framework should not introduce any additional restrictions to career progression
  • Modern principles of higher education should underpin education and training
  • Research, development and innovation must be included in the PTP and STP
  • Any proposed new system must be adequately tested before it is fully rolled out.

The AAPT feel that there must be clear and accessible routes for progression from Healthcare Science Assistants (HCSA) to Healthcare Scientist Practitioners (HCSP).  There must be good funding for education, and attractive salaries. The HCSA needs to have an output that has currency outside the NHS with other employers.

There must be clear and accessible routes for progression from HCSP to Healthcare Scientists (HCS).  Existing HCSP should not need to leave their post to join the STP – their employment should be protected if they move into the STP. The HCSP needs to have an output that has currency outside the NHS with other employers.

The model says that there will be opportunities to progress into senior practitioner roles involving management and leadership.  This type of career progression within the Practitioner role needs to be further developed and highlighted.  There will be a need for advanced level specialist practitioners at career stages 7 and 8 in some disciplines – a route for this type of career progression needs to be included in the MSC framework.

The AAPT is concerned that as the numbers of APT staff nationally are small the MSC programme will potentially put establishments off developing or continuing to deliver mortuary and post-mortem examination services, as the time required for training will dramatically increase for this professional group.

With regard to technology and scientific advances - if APT staff are included within the HCSP level then they will be better placed to formally interact with clinical colleagues on issues such as end of life care pathways and advanced treatment planning.

AAPT are concerned that unless sufficient time is spent on discipline specific training then the APT will not be competent as a lot of their role is practical, however this will then detract away from the idea of a workforce that can easily adapt and change disciplines and lean more to the previous method of training. 

To support the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) the AAPT believe that there need to be opportunities to undertake the PTP on a part-time basis.

We are concerned that the courses need to be available at a good range of geographical locations.

Centres providing the PTP academic programmes must be suitably accredited.  Professional bodies should be involved in the accreditation. Formal further education courses are required for the learning and development of HCSA and formal higher education courses are required for the HSCP.

The AAPT believe that professional bodies must be closely involved in the development of curricula for the Scientist Training Programme (STP) and the Higher Specialist Healthcare Scientist Training (HSST) programmes.

AAPT feel that the lower levels of training are equally as important as we feel that potentially a significant proportion of our future workforce will come up from these levels, especially taking into account the current financial climate which may have an effect on the number of school leavers choosing to go directly into the workforce rather than into higher education.  

The AAPT would very much like to be able to continue its development and modernisation of the profession to its full potential in collaboration with the MSC programme team and the other Healthcare Science professions. To this end we are most appreciative of the joint work that is currently ongoing between AAPT & the MSC team. We feel that our concerns as a professional body have been listened to and that the progress we had made to date with regards to the statutory regulation of the profession, the APT learning pack and new APT qualification has not been in vain. We therefore look forward to continuing this joint working following this consultation.

We do feel that we would also like to make the following comments regarding the programme.

As previously stated we feel that statutory regulation of the current aspirant HCS disciplines needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency and the MSC programme should not add additional delays to any process that are currently underway. We further feel that whilst educational levels are important the need to protect the public is the crucial factor with regards to regulation and therefore MSC need to ensure that it is a healthcare workers capacity to do harm that drives the regulation process and not the academic qualification.

We, like many other groups, are concerned as to whether there will be enough capacity to deliver the training programmes.

Professional bodies must be involved in the oversight and QA of the training programmes.

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