AIPP Response to Council for Healthcare Science request for the views of STP and PTP placement providers on the following questions:

27.April.2015

Has the privatisation of pathology laboratories affected placement provision? If so, how?

General

The use of private sector investment to strengthen UK pathology has in fact so far been extremely limited. The question as posed is therefore distinctly premature. Indeed, given the pressing need to modernise pathology primarily so that patients can benefit from the huge advances that have taken place, a better and more productive question would be to ask why so little has been done to encourage private investment to support what is a key element in future medicine.
 
It should also be noted that the main “model” for private sector investment in pathology is one of partnership with NHS Trusts. This is the result of carefully considered decisions by the Trusts concerned as to how best to ensure that pathology services are of the required quality and efficiency. In a number of cases the arrangement also brings additional financial benefits to Trusts through joint ownership or shareholding in the pathology provider.
 
However, insofar as it is possible at this early stage to look at the question that is being asked, we hope that the Council will see merit in also having the views and the relevant facts provided by the private sector companies (or more accurately the public-private partnerships) that are currently active in the market.

Specific

Turning to the specific issues raised by the question, we would point out that the use of a third party provider has tended to increase the provision for STP and HSST places.

The companies concerned all have commitments to strengthen support for the development and recruitment of the scientific workforce and this frequently goes well beyond what was in place or envisaged prior to the decision to partner with the private sector.  For example, in the case of one company they have:
  • Created 3 ‘in-service’ HSST positions (one started Dec 2014, one April 2015, one to start Sep 2015)
  • Funded one national position from the 100K genome project in Molecular Pathology
  • Funded two positions in Clinical Biochemistry
  • Created 1 ‘in-service’ STP position in Clinical Biochemistry.

The company concerned is also discussing trying to activate the PTP programme and considering a further STP post in Clinical Biochemistry for 2016 and further HSST posts.

In the case of another company, they have:
  • Increased headcount by c15% since formation 
  • Hired 3 new BMSs, all of whom have previously trained with the company, with a 4th about to be confirmed 
  • Ensured training placements have not reduced despite short-sighted rules that make it harder for the private sector to get funding 
  • Hired 5 apprentices who are going through structured training.

And since 1st April 2014, another company has:
  • Supported all ongoing training in BSc, MSc and managerial training;
  • Appointed eight trainee BMS staff;
  • Developed ongoing relationships with three universities for one year placements to support sandwich courses;
  • Worked with Health Education England and the Camden Life Sciences Programme to design apprenticeships; and
  • Supported two staff members in joining supplier development teams.

We therefore believe that the use of partnering arrangements between the NHS and the private sector has the clear potential to strengthen training and development in pathology as well as providing a route to modernisation of pathology services so as to give the NHS and patients the quality, reliability and consistency of provision across the country that is still so badly needed

AIPP
27 April 2015

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