In the UK, healthcare laboratories handle over one billion samples every year – a figure does not include the millions of COVID-19 PCR tests that they have also processed over the last year.
Biomedical scientists and laboratory staff provide other healthcare professionals with vital scientific information, allowing them to make informed clinical decisions, ensure blood stocks are adequate at critical times, matching blood to patients, measuring chemicals to monitor patient condition, investigating disease by looking at tumour samples and identifying micro-organisms in the fight against infection. We all must take a moment to celebrate our hospital laboratory staff during this global pandemic – for their incredible leaps of innovation, enduring hard work, and the critical frontline services they provide.
President of the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), Professor Allan Wilson, said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the key work of biomedical scientists and laboratory staff into the spotlight. This Biomedical Science Day aims to inform the public that the scientists behind every test are about the expertise involved in a patient’s hospital care by working tirelessly behind the scenes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Biomedical scientists work at the heart of healthcare, providing test results from which most clinical decisions are made, yet rarely get the recognition they deserve.’
Biomedical Science Day has gained significant popularity among biomedical laboratory staff across the UK in its fifth year, with hundreds of NHS and private healthcare laboratories taking part. As in 2020, this year’s event will be held virtually, with social media activities taking place throughout the day.
However, some hospitals will be offering virtual laboratory tours to the public or producing films that showcase the vital work of biomedical scientists and laboratory support staff who work at the heart of healthcare.
IBMS Chief Executive David Wells, who as head of NHS England’s pathology services overlooked the COVID-19 testing programme in hospitals last year, commented: ‘As the country recovers from the pandemic, diagnostic tests delivered by biomedical scientists will be vitally important to ensure waiting times are kept to a minimum in new and innovative ways, adding to the importance of their work at the heart of healthcare.’
The Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) is the professional organisation that represents the profession and organises Biomedical Science Day. This year, to highlight how laboratory staff have always been involved in processing samples and diagnosing illnesses beyond the pandemic, they have produced a short video featuring members who work in healthcare laboratories across the UK.
Also appearing in the video is Umar Siddiqui, star of Channel 4’s hit TV show Gogglebox and a Fellow of the IBMS. Working as a biomedical scientist who works at Queen’s Hospital in Burton on Trent, Umar commented: ‘Laboratory test results are a critical component of patient care and targeted treatment. Yet, the people who carry out these tests are largely unrecognised or underappreciated. These are biomedical scientists – a highly-skilled, motivated, and diligent group of professionals, who contribute so much to healthcare and who deserve our support and recognition.’