Piloting Modernising Scientific Careers in Coventry & Warwickshire


15 / 09 / 2011

  • Organisation
  • What we did and why
  • How we did it
  • Tips for other trusts
  • Next steps
  • Further information and contacts
  • Organisation

    Coventry & Warwickshire Pathology Services is a large pathology network with approximately 500 employees, operating within West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA). The service is a shared venture between University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust. The service is hosted by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, one of the newest and busiest NHS teaching trusts in the country.

    In total, Coventry & Warwickshire Pathology Services serves over 1.2 million patients per year including approximately 150,000 in-patients, 785,000 out-patients, 74,000 day cases and more than 260,000 visits to A&E. In addition it serves around 990,000 GP patients per year.

    What we did and why

    In the early stages, plans to become an early innovator and implementer were raised at a stakeholder board meeting where HR fully supported the bid. An MSC early adopter project board was set up with representation from the Associate HR director.

    CWPS  identified several benefits of  becoming a pilot site for MSC including:

    • highlighting the contribution of scientists in patient pathways
    • improving career transparency and attracting talented individuals into the service
    • encouraging innovation and flexibility within the workforce to support modern healthcare.

    Due to the scope of the project, CWPS focused largely on life sciences opposed to the other science disciplines. However, the trust set up a project steering group led by Coventry & Warwickshire Pathology Services involving trust representatives from HR, unions and communication leads to promote sharing of activities to the wider healthcare science divisions. The focus was around workforce planning, education and training and building training partnerships with local education providers.

    How we did it

    Electronic Staff Records (ESR) data cleanse

    Firstly CWPS needed to improve the quality of the data held locally for their healthcare science workforce. All scientists are recognised within ESR and counted within their discipline according to an occupational code. In pathology, a data cleansing exercise was carried out to ensure staff were allocated to the current specialities and that corresponding coding was correct. This coincided with an HR led organisation wide ESR data cleanse. ESR amendments continue to be applied to the live database improving the overall accuracy of the healthcare science workforce data.

    Workforce Modelling

    CWPS then populated a pathology workforce modelling tool, which enabled them to create network service models (for example in blood science and cellular pathology), to define the profile of the current workforce.

    The workforce planning tool can be used to demonstrate the impact of workforce re-profiling when identifying future service requirements for example, increased automation. The workforce profiles help to visualise service structure, identify skill gaps and predict positioning of emerging MSC roles. There are also similar tools available for use in physiology and physical science disciplines.

    Currently, CWPS is completing a detailed review of scientific roles using the data generated from the pathology workforce tool: modelling various scenarios to introduce a workforce planning strategy within each department.

    In histology CWPS has used the modelling to plan arrangements for future services. Re-profiling has been applied in three main pathology disciplines, reviewing roles as vacancies have arisen and where appropriate, appointed to a band suited to the post. In blood sciences, the trust also implemented several staffing changes within specimen reception to improve turn around times and efficiency.

    Education and training

    CPWS reviewed and commented upon learning outcomes of the new MSC training programmes. Participating in the placement rotations for the genetics Scientist Training Programme (STP) provided them with familiarity with the new rotations and assessment methods. CWPS also completed a detailed examination of current career pathways to enable them to evaluate equivalency with the newly proposed career framework.


    Using surveys, forums and focus groups across the pathology service, CWPS has actively engaged scientists within this change process, encouraging innovation and ideas for new ways of working. This is enabling a culture change moving from historic boundaries into a more flexible multi-disciplinary workforce able to meet the challenges of changing patient pathways.

    Tips for other trusts

    • Set up a clearly defined project team using project methodology (e.g. Prince 2). This will help maintain momentum and focus upon realising benefits for your organisation.
    • Create comprehensive workforce models using the tools available and include associated support staff to help build representative service models.
    • Form and maintain good communication networks to achieve the necessary support.

     Next Steps 

    • Adapt ESR coding to incorporate the new MSC healthcare science roles.
    • Continue to examine and shape workforce profiles to meet the requirements of the future service.
    • Develop necessary processes to support delivery of the blood science STP programme and look to offer the STP programme in pathology disciplines.
    • Build on developing communications with network employees and share findings with the wider healthcare sciences within the trust.

    Contact details 

    For further information please contact Rachel Cleaton, Project Manager at Rachel.Cleaton@uhcw.nhs.uk  

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