If you have had a blood test, been treated for an infection or perhaps someone you know is being treated for cancer, you will have had contact with Pathology – even if you didn’t realise it. Because a lot of pathology work is done behind the scenes, many people are unaware of its vital contribution to modern medicine. Increasingly, pathologists are responsible for the care of patients, for example those with leukaemia, anaemias or immune and metabolic disorders. Without the detective work of the Pathology team investigating disease, there could be no firm answers, and improving or even maintaining the quality of medical care would be impossible.
The public perception of pathology is often one of dead bodies and solving murders, as seen on crime programmes. National Pathology Week, which runs from 3rd to 9th November 2008, is an opportunity for Islanders to find out more about the work undertaken by Pathology and the vital contribution made to the health of the Island. Did you know for example:
• On the Island 99 people work in pathology and across England as a whole the figure is 25,000.
• Millions of pathology tests are performed annually, an average of 14 for every man, woman and child every year. On the Island just under 1 million tests are performed each year.
• If you’ve ever had a blood test, cervical smear or biopsy, the result will have been provided by the Pathology department.
• It is estimated that 70-80% of all health care decisions affecting diagnosis or treatment involve a pathology investigation (Carter Report).
On Saturday 8th November 2008 between 12:00 noon and 4.00p.m. the Pathology Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in Newport is opening its doors to any member of the public who is interested in finding out more about the tests undertaken to diagnose disease. Tours will be run on a regular basis between these times with the start point in the Pathology Department (blood tests) in the main Hospital on the St. Mary’s site. Follow the signs from the main entrance. Places on each tour are limited to 10 people so advance booking is essential. This can be done by e-mailing email@example.com or telephoning 01983 534771 and leave an answerphone message clearly stating your full name, the time you will be arriving, the number of visitors attending and a telephone number in case we need to contact you. Please ensure you book a place before 12 noon on Friday 7th November 2008 as this number will be unavailable after this time.
We regret that children aged under 14 cannot be accommodated and those aged between 14 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Members of the public visiting the St. Mary’s Hospital site are also reminded of the need to follow good hand hygiene practice on entering the hospital and when visiting laboratory areas.
Dr Suzanne Chapman, Lead Clinician for the Pathology Department at St. Mary’s says: “We hope that as many people as possible will take this opportunity to visit us. Whether you’ve seen a pathologist on the TV, heard about MRSA on the news, had an illness yourself or are just inquisitive - we believe we have got something to interest everyone.”
The science of pathology permeates all branches of medicine. The doctors working in a surgery or clinic all depend on the knowledge, diagnostic skills and advice of some of the pathologists. Whether it’s a GP arranging a pregnancy test or a surgeon wanting to know the nature of the lump removed at operation, the Pathology department usually provides the definitive answer.
In addition to the open afternoon for the general public the Department is also opening its doors to young people aged over 14. This has been arranged via Heads of Science at local schools and will take place on the evening of Thursday 6th November. One of the aims of National Pathology Week is to encourage young people to consider a career in science. The career opportunities available within Pathology include –
Pathologists – qualified Doctors who have undergone specialist training
Clinical Scientists – graduates with Hons Degree in Biochemistry (often with PhD) who have undergone specialist training
Biomedical Scientists – graduates in science (often with an MSc) who specialise in one of the five main disciplines
Medical Laboratory Assistants – work in conjunction with scientific staff. In house training with opportunity of gaining NVQ qualification
Phlebotomists – take blood samples from patients for various diagnostic tests. In house training with opportunity of gaining NVQ qualification
Medical Secretaries – need minimum of RSA 3 or equivalent and/or the AMSPAR diploma
The five main Pathology specialties are:
• Chemical Pathology (Biochemistry)
• Haematology & Blood Transfusion
• Cellular Pathology
• Medical Microbiology/Virology
Notes For Editors
1. For further information contact the Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust communications team on 01983-534184 or 552003.
2. Further information about pathology can be found on the
National Pathology Week website at www.nationalpathologyweek.org
Careers in Biomedical Science at www.ibms.org.uk
Royal College of Pathologists website at www.rcpath.org.uk