Lab coat heroes celebrated on Biomedical Science Day

Biomedical science staff are not known for shouting about what they do. They work behind the scenes, out of the public eye, in pathology laboratories across the country.

Thursday June 11 is Biomedical Science Day, an annual event organised by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), the professional body for biomedical scientists in the UK. The aim of the day is to highlight the role biomedical science staff across the UK play and raise awareness of the work they carry out.

At Pathology First, approximately 130 biomedical scientists are at the forefront of our healthcare, implementing both antibody testing and COVID-19 testing (PCR), helping clinicians and scientists to better understand the prevalence of the virus in our region. They also support the diagnosing and managing of a wide range of other conditions and diseases.

Emma Parker from Canvey Island started her career as a Medical Laboratory Assistant at Southend Hospital before becoming a Biomedical Scientist with a specialist portfolio in Medical Microbiology. Today she is leading the project to establish COVID-19 and antibody testing at the three laboratories that make up Pathology First. The project has grown in urgency and scale involving all the pathology disciplines and support roles.

Emma said: “I remember being interested in science from the age of 11, inspired by my Mum who at 32 years old was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted to be able to help people in similar situations and that is why I choose a career in biomedical science.

“Today I’m part of a dedicated team, working together to provide COVID-19 antibody and PCR testing for our NHS partners and patients. We have evaluated tests, sourced analysers, implemented processes and trained staff and now we are ready to go live.”

Darren Raffety from Southend is a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in Microbiology. He explained: “COVID-19 presented a monumental challenge for our lab and required all departments to work closely together to meet that challenge.

“I volunteered to join the COVID team from the start so that I could play my part in providing our patients with the best service possible. Now that we are ready to perform testing in-house, the challenges have changed but the level of dedication and commitment from the team has not.”

70 per cent of medical diagnoses made by a clinician or a healthcare professional are based on a laboratory test result carried out by a biomedical scientist and pre pandemic, the team at Pathology First processed 56,000 tests each day.

The COVID-19 PCR and antibody tests will be used by Southend University Hospital and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital and any other NHS organisation that requires the tests.

Graeme Cleland, General Manager of Pathology First said: “I am incredibly proud of the team for the long hours and dedication they have shown to get these tests live. There are a number of other antibody and COVID-19 tests and we will be implementing them as soon as they become validated. Our aim is to provide the best service we can to our partners and help any other NHS body who is looking for capacity.”

Allan Wilson, president of the Institute of Biomedical Science, said: “With COVID-19, it has already been a big year for biomedical scientists and I am very proud of the contributions of our members. The pandemic has meant that more people than ever are aware of the important role of the healthcare laboratory in diagnosis, treatment and general healthcare.”

Training and recruitment

Pathology First offers approved training laboratories for Institute of Biomedical Science registration and specialist portfolios.

  • Pathology First is currently training 17 people to become registered Biomedical Scientists
  • Three university students from two different universities are currently on placement at Pathology First
  • Five apprentices will become Biomedical Scientists over their four-year programme of studies
  • 16 scientists are working on their specialist portfolios which will enable them to become Specialist Biomedical Scientists within their department.

For a list of the current BMS vacancies, visit the careers page


Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]