Consultant clinical scientist workforce

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09 / 9 / 2015 11.57am

Higher Specialist Scientific Training (HSST) has been designed to support the development of the clinical consultant workforce in defined scientific specialisms, where there is a clear workforce requirement for consultant clinical scientists. 

Health Education England's Scaling the Heights: an overview of Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) in Healthcare Science sets out detailed plans for the development and implementation of HSST.

What does HSST provide?

HSST will ensure future workforce supply in specialist areas through transparent and quality-assured programmes. It gives employers the opportunity to train the consultant clinical scientist workforce in a range of specialisms which will support workforce planning, ensure the workforce has innovative and dynamic scientific leaders and bring research into the clinical arena to further improve patient outcomes.

How long is the programme?

HSST will be a five-year work based training programme, supported by an underpinning part time doctoral programme.

The HSST Programme

The first HSST programmes commenced in Autumn 2014. Curricula has been been developed by joint medical and scientist working groups, facilitated by the medical royal colleges.

HSST will train and develop healthcare scientists who, when successfully appointed into consultant clinical scientist roles, will provide:

  • clinical and scientific expertise and leadership
  • consultant level scientific and clinical advice within direct patient care
  • strategic direction, innovation and highly developed and specialised skills supporting service development and new ways of working
  • education and training support for healthcare scientists within the new MSC training framework.

Employers are encouraged to work with their Local Education and Training Boards to identify workforce demand and capacity for these programmes.

What is the evidence base for HSST?

Modernising Scientific Careers provides an opportunity to streamline the education of consultant clinical scientists and develop a new model for training and consultant level appointments in the future. Modernising Scientific Careers: UK Way Forward (2010) clearly sets out a requirement for Higher Specialist Scientist Training.

Workforce planning

In the defined specialisms where HSST will be introduced, employers will have the opportunity to appoint expert and senior scientists to work with doctors and clinical teams, enabling the optimal development and use of scientific advances to benefit patient care and services.

Employers should consider locally the type of healthcare science roles which are required to deliver future services to patients:

  • where would senior scientists add clinical value, enhancing efficiency and productivity
  • how/where can senior scientists complement and work with existing clinical teams
  • is there emphasis on planning for replacement of existing consultant scientist roles e.g. succession planning.

Workforce planners should work with the healthcare science workforce to identify the service requirements and feed this information into regional plans.

Recruitment to the programme

HSST training posts are now available in accredited training departments either as new posts created specifically for the purpose of training (direct entry) or as in-service posts, through already existing clinical scientist posts. Employers are encouraged to work with their Local Education and Training Boards (LETB) to identify workforce demand and capacity. 

All applicants are required to undergo a formal appointment and bench-marking process which is overseen by the National School of Healthcare Science .

Further information

We will help keep employers informed through our web pages and Workforce bulletin.


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