Healthcare science workforce

Scientist with microscope
The healthcare science (HCS) workforce is an essential part of today's healthcare team, contributing to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.

With increasing financial pressures and a renewed focus on helping organisations to improve the quality of care, the healthcare science workforce can play a major role in helping employers to secure financial savings at the same time as increasing quality of care.

The Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) programme provides an opportunity to refocus and re-energise the healthcare science workforce. MSC cannot be achieved by the healthcare science workforce alone; HR professionals have key skills which can be used to support workforce transformation, workforce profiling, planning and change management.

The benefits of MSC can only be fully realised if linked into wider workforce and service planning, and education commissioning.

The changing role of healthcare science in care delivery

The healthcare science workforce is formed of more than 60 specialisms employing around 52,000 staff in England, representing about five per cent of the total HCS workforce. It is split into four recognised divisions: life sciences, physiological sciences, physical sciences and engineering and bio-informatics.

Changes and innovations in technology and the landscape of the NHS needs the healthcare science workforce to adapt and adopt new knowledge and skills. This presents opportunities and is resulting in new roles and services. For example:

  • automated processes require different skills to monitor and operate new processes which could free up the time of specialist staff to focus on other activities
  • the ability to monitor certain conditions remotely and for patients to play a key role in monitoring and managing their own conditions, changing where and how care is delivered
  • advances in science are resulting in more complex tests and procedures, which require greater expertise to carry out and interpret.
 To find out about the many careers in healthcare science, visit the NHS Careers website.

Modernising Scientific Careers

Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) is ensuring that the HCS workforce is equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities of future care delivery. Introduced back in 2008, it addresses some of the historic difficulties that faced the workforce in terms of education and training, skill mix and workforce planning. In 2010, Modernising Scientific Careers: The UK Way Forward detailed the strategy for improving the education and training of the workforce.

In response to the MSC programme, we guide you through the education and training arrangements, registration and regulation of this part of the workforce, and provide resources which have been designed to help employers with local implementation. If have any questions, our briefing document Healthcare Science Education and Training: Explaining the Facts provides up to date information including the background, stages of implementation and key contacts.

You can also access a suite of shared learning examples which demonstrate how MSC is enabling the healthcare science workforce to realise the benefits of advances in science and technology and the impact this is having on service delivery and patient care.

Lab man in suit

Consultant clinical scientist guidance project

Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England, Professor Sue Hill, has asked NHS Employers to lead the development of guidance to support the recruitment, employment and development of consultant clinical scientists.

Healthcare meeting

Engaging with your healthcare science workforce

NHS employers can have a role in recognising the opportunities that healthcare science presents to transform the way in which services are delivered and improve the quality of patient care.

Lady holding a meeting

The role of HR in healthcare science

We have identified some practical steps that employers can take to facilitate the implementation of the Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) programme.


Healthcare science education and training

Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) is changing the education and development of the healthcare science workforce.

Tablet, calculator and coffee

Tools, resources and shared learning

There are various tools and resources available which can help you promote, inspire, recruit and retain your healthcare science workforce.

Woman in science lab

Promoting healthcare science as a career

By effectively promoting healthcare science as a career, employers are able to develop existing staff and secure future workforce supply.


ESR and the healthcare science workforce

Find out about the recent changes being made to the quality and accuracy of HCS workforce data recorded and stored on the Electronic Staff Record System (ESR). 

Related News

Healthcare Science Week is here!

What is your organisation planning for healthcare science week? Let us know and feature on our activity calendar.

View article

New Healthcare Science Week 2016 poster

Use the new Healthcare Science Week poster to help encourage your workforce to get involved and promote the various exciting roles and opportunities available.

View article

Latest Tweets

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Sounds great, what next?

Register Now

Not now, I will register later

Log In