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Modernising Scientific Careers

MSC is a national education and training programme that aims to equipment the healthcare science (HCS) workforce with the skills and expertise needed to meet the challenges and opportunities of delivering services in future care pathways.

What are the aims of the MSC Programme?

The programme aims to addresses some of the difficulties currently facing the healthcare science workforce in terms of education, skill mix and workforce planning, by providing a clear framework of education and workforce development.

The programme aims to ensure that the healthcare science workforce is trained and structured in a way to support for future changes in service delivery, and to maximise the benefits of potential new scientific advances.

The programme aims to work to ensure that education curriculum and training programmes are integrally linked into technological and scientific advances and into emerging models of care.

The programme aims to provide a strategic view of the healthcare science workforce to enable the development of a sustainable workforce for the future.


What are the drivers for MSC?

The non-medical HCS workforce in the NHS is specialised and complex, with over 52,000 staff in England, making it the largest ‘basic’ scientist group in any employment sector in the UK. HCSs are employed in more than 45 specialisms, delivering over 100 highly specialist or sub specialist scientific diagnostic and therapeutic services. They play a critical role in the innovation pathway, from intervention through to adoption and diffusion of a new technology; as well as in knowledge management, particularly in geonomics and bioinformatics.

Although this workforce comprises of approximately 5% of the total healthcare workforce in the UK, their work underpins 80% of all diagnoses. The Health Care Science community work within the NHS provider Trusts, in primary care and in public health (Health Protection Agency HPA) and within the National Blood and Transplant Authority (NHSBT).


Why is MSC needed?

The MSC programme provides a simplified career structure along a common education and training pathway. It aims to address some of the historic difficulties within the workforce by replacing the large numbers of routes through education and training by streamlining the process. As a result, career pathways will be more aligned to other healthcare professionals, and more transparent for those already in the workforce or considering entering it.


MSC Structure

The MSC programme supports workforce planning by providing a flexible career pathway structure with clearly defined following roles that are applicable to all healthcare science disciplines:

  • Healthcare science assistant
  • Healthcare science associate
  • Healthcare science practitioner
  • Healthcare scientist
  • Consultant healthcare scientist

The above HCS career structure is separated into the following divisions, themes and specialisms:

Division Theme Specialism  
Physiological Sciences Cardiac, Vascular, Respiratory & Sleep Sciences Cardiac Science  
Vascular Science*  
Respiratory & Sleep Sciences  
Critical Care Science*  
Perfusion Science*  
Gastrointestinal Physiology & Urodynamic Science*  
Neurosensory Sciences Audiology  
Ophthalmic & Vision Sciences  
Life Sciences(Note that at PTP level area is studies to Theme level only) Infection Sciences Microbiology (including: infection control & epidemiology, virology, bacteriology, mycology, parasitology)  
Blood Sciences Clinical Biochemistry  
Haematology and Transfusion Science  
Clinical Immunology  
Histocompatibility & Immunogenetics  
Cellular Sciences Histopathology  
Reproductive Science  
Physical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Medical Physics Radiotherapy Physics  
Radiation Safety Physics  
Nuclear Medicine (PTP level only)  
Imaging (ionising radiation) *  
Imaging (non-ionising radiation) *  
Clinical Photography*  
Clinical Pharmaceutical Science*  
  Bioinformatics (also links to genomics)  
Clinical Engineering Rehabilitation Engineering  
Medical Engineering (PTP only)  
Renal Engineering  
Clinical Measurement & Development*  
Medical Device Risk Management & Governance*  
Reconstructive Science*

Note that * denotes that this specialism is at Healthcare Scientist level only.

(From 2014 it is envisaged that Anatomical Pathology will join the HCS remit. Future education and training programmes which may need to be considered for Practitioner, Scientist level (dependent of workforce need) may include Autonomic Science and Decontamination Science).


What are the education and training programmes with MSC?

The education programmes for MSC support the following career structure:

  • Apprenticeship Training-Healthcare Science Assistant and Associate (Career Level 1-3)
  • Foundation Degree-Healthcare Associate (Career Level 4)
  • Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) for Healthcare Sciences Practitioner (Career Level 5-6)
  • Scientist Training Programme (STP) for Healthcare Scientist (Career Level 6-7)
  • Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) for Consultant Clinical Scientist (Career Level 8-9)


Healthcare Science Assistant (Career Level 1-3)

It is envisaged that an individual in this role would work to established procedures and protocols under direct supervision.


Healthcare Science Associates (Career Level 4)

It is envisaged that an individual in this role would work to established procedures and protocols under some element of supervision and would make judgments involving straight-forward work-related facts or situations

The recruitment of both Healthcare science Assistant and Associates recruitment is managed by local NHS organisations. Work is currently underway at a national level and throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region to support and develop these roles. It is envisaged that this will enable a clear route to progress to practitioner level training.


Healthcare Science Practitioner (PTP) (Career Level 5-6)

It is envisaged that in this role an individual would work independently and use a broad theoretical and practical knowledge in a specialised area.

HCS Practitioners are trained through NHS approved and accredited 3 year BSc honours degrees in Practitioner Training Programmes (PTP) in one of five scientific themes of healthcare science. Programmes are offered by the following Universities:

Practitioner Training Programme Accredited University Provision


  North Midlands London South
Life Sciences Bradford Uni -Life Sciences and geneticsManchester Met Life Sciences , Genetics 


Sunderland Uni- Life Sciences, Genetics

De Monford Uni-Life SciencesNottingham Trent -infection and genetics Westminster (Genetics) Portsmouth -Life SciencesPlymouth Uni- Life Sciences 


West of England -Life Sciences, Genetics

Physiological Sciences Leeds Uni- Neurosensory Anglia Ruskin- NeurosensoryDe Monford Uni- CVRS, Neurosensory 


Wolverhampton Uni- CVRS

St Georges-CVRS Plymouth Uni- CVRS
Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering Bradford Uni-Clinical Engineering De Monford-Medical Physics  

As universities are Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (www.hefce.ac.uk) funded, students undertaking the course are entitled to support costs:

Details of the PTP training guides are available at www.nhsnetworks.nhs.uk


Healthcare Scientist (STP) (Career Level 6-7)

Individuals in this role would use detailed theoretical and practical knowledge and provide specialist services/advise.

To become a Healthcare Scientist the applicant will need an existing degree or postgraduate qualification (or equivalent) and progress through the Scientist Training Programme. If the candidate is already employed by the NHS in a practitioner role than eligibility for the course may be gain through an existing science degree, postgraduate qualification or by demonstrating relevant experience. Success candidates will be employed by an NHS Trust for the duration of their training.

To apply from outside of the NHS, applicants need to apply through the National School of Healthcare Science, as The School manage the national recruitment progress.

There are two routes into the STP course. Please see below for regional information on this process:

Consultant Clinical Scientist (HSST) (Career Levels 8-9)

The Higher Specialist Scientific Training Programme (HSST) is currently under development. HSST will be a five year work-based programme supported by an unpinning doctoral level academic award. The Department of Health is working with the medical Royal Colleges and other key stakeholders to develop the curriculum for these consultant clinical scientist in specialism where there is a clear workforce need. The first HSST programmes are expected to be in place 2013/14.

Regional Implementation and support of the MSC programme

Please note that the commissioning of education and training for all Health Care Science Specialisms is undertaken by Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber (HEYH). This is the new name for the Yorkshire and the Humber Local Education and Training Board and is part of the newly formed Special Health Authority Health Education England (HEE).

All Healthcare Science education and training/Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) queries can be sent to the following:

Use of the regional Network

The Yorkshire and Humber Region have developed 3 Healthcare Scientist networks to aid in cascading information and messages throughout the region. These consist of a Life Sciences Implementation Group, a Physiological Science Implementation Group, and a Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering Implementation Group.  These groups have proven useful in cascading MSC and HCS information out to the region, as well as acting an invaluable source of information themselves. It is incredibly important that the networks remain robust and able to relate to HEYH as its education and commissioning responsibilities develop.

If you are interested in hearing more, attending the bi-monthly meetings or wanting to get in contact with other members of the Healthcare Science workforce within your Trust, please email nicola.calder@yh.hee.nhs.uk.

How to keep up-to-date with recent regional MSC developments

The region is serviced by a web-based network. This network contains links to the Practitioner Training Programme/Scientist Training Programme/ MSC Implementation Group Minutes/MSC Implementation Group dates, as well as any presentations that have taken place in the region. We would like to encourage all those involved in Healthcare Science to register.  http://www.networks.nhs.uk/. Search Yorkshire and the Humber MSC Implementation and Healthcare Scientist Network.

For more information regarding MSC please see:

MSC Programme: Modernising Scientific Careers: The UK Way Forward and for its implementation in England refer to Modernising Scientific Careers: The England Action Plan and the NHS Chief Scientific website- http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Aboutus/Chiefprofessionalofficers/chiedscientificofficer/DH_086661

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