The role of HR in healthcare science

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08 / 4 / 2014 Midday

We've identified some practical steps that HR can take to help facilitate the implementation of the Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) programme.

Workforce profiling and planning

Profiling and planning the healthcare science workforce forms part of the wider modernisation agenda and is an area where HR can make a significant contribution.

The government's mandate for Health Education England (HEE), clearly defines the key role that employers have in workforce planning and education to deliver high-quality patient care. Employers have an important role in helping to design services, ensuring that the right mix of skills and resources are available.  

In order to successfully implement MSC in your organisation, one of the first actions is to develop an accurate profile of your current healthcare science workforce.

Work took place in 2013 to improve the system of recording the healthcare science workforce on ESR (and other HR systems) and the new values were made available in ESR in December 2013. All organisations should now be using the new system. 

Workforce planners should support healthcare scientists in planning and profiling the future healthcare science workforce. Healthcare scientists also need to be linked into wider organisational planning cycles, for example service planning, educational commissioning and regional workforce planning. 

There are tools and resources available to support employers with their workforce planning:

Role redesign

The development of a standard national framework of career pathways and education and training will provide a basis on which new roles can be developed to support improved patient outcomes. This is an opportunity for the healthcare science workforce to review their skill mix and the purpose of their role to ensure that the workforce profile is aligned to service and patient needs. HR professionals can use their skills to help design and match job roles to the outcomes of the proposed training programmes to support this part of MSC implementation.

Change management

The healthcare science workforce will naturally experience change perhaps in the way they work, the type of trainees they support, the colleagues they work with or the working environment.

MSC is a workforce development programme and should be approached in the same way as other organisational change programmes. HR professionals can provide invaluable support to healthcare scientists on some of the key people management issues they may face when addressing a change in the workforce.

Ensuring that change takes place in a way which is supportive and engages staff are key success factors for any workforce development or change programme. The staff engagement section of our website provides more information on this.

Some of the key principles to consider when implementing any type of workforce change include:

  • ensuring senior leadership commitment and providing effective, consistent and clear leadership
  • establishing a clear vision of the future
  • identifying the benefits that change will bring
  • providing a rationale for the change
  • embedding the change programme and engagement of staff in day-to-day activities
  • linking a number of change agendas together rather than keeping the change in isolation. For example, link this change to the broader nursing workforce and medical workforce changes that are currently taking place.

Key people


Each Local Education and Training Board (LETB) has an MSC lead who will have an MSC implementation plan for the region which you should be aware of. They will also be able to provide information on the regional and national progress of MSC as well as the training opportunities and education commissioning for healthcare science. 

Trust healthcare science lead

All trusts that employ healthcare scientists should identify a person as a healthcare science lead and they should make themselves known to the LETB MSC lead. It is important that their is HR representation at any MSC project group that has been established to address the wider workforce issues and to provide people management guidance and advice.

Network leads

Each region has a series of different healthcare science networks. The leads of these networks will provide useful information about the broader implementation of MSC across the whole profession as well as links to the professional bodies that represent healthcare scientists.

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