What is the role of a Biomedical Scientist?
A Registered Biomedical Scientist (BMS) is a professional role responsible for performing, interpreting and validating a range of routine and specialist investigations. This involves determining the pathological/clinical significance of results and use their specialist skills to assess the validity of laboratory results and take appropriate action.
In the Transfusion laboratory our staff are also responsible for cross-matching and issuing blood to treat patients for anaemia and in emergency blood loss situations. We provide approximately 17,000 units of blood and blood products to our patients each year, and we are required, by law, to ensure there is full “traceability” for each of the units that we give.
The department also supplies the Helicopter Emergency Service (Kent, Surrey, Sussex Air ambulance) with blood for treating trauma casualties in the region.
Our BMS staff are expected to maintain laboratory practice in accordance with the regulatory standards for blood: The Blood Safety & Quality Regulations 2005 (as amended), and accreditation standards: Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd. This includes maintaining up to date scientific knowledge for their professional registration, and they are required to participate in educational activities throughout their career.
To become a BMS, a BSc in Biomedical Science or equivalent is required. Trainee members of staff must complete a registration portfolio which enables them to be registered with the HCPC. Specialist portfolio completion is essential to become a Specialist Biomedical Scientist. An MSc or equivalent is required for senior positions.
What is the role of a Medical Laboratory Assistant?
A Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) has a really important role in supporting the laboratory. Their duties include performing maintenance on instruments, preparing and processing clinical specimens for testing within Standard Operating Procedures including the preparation of blood films. Part of the role involves reviewing blood test results and flagging any grossly abnormal results to the Biomedical Scientist. As an MLA you would also be dealing with our service users either from the hospital or our GP clients undertaking important tasks such as phoning through abnormal results. At times our MLAs may also work with colleagues in Pathology Reception if needed.
All of our MLAs are expected to work in any of the Integrated Blood Sciences departments and are assessed through robust competency assessments.
To become an MLA, no formal qualifications are required but GCSE or equivalent in English and Maths would be advantageous. The theoretical knowledge expected of the role is equivalent to an NVQ Level 3 and appropriate on the job training is provided to enable an MLA to gain the required knowledge.
This is a varied and exciting role and some MLAs go on to become Biomedical Scientists registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Others decide to stay in this valuable role and develop vital and solid experience which enables them to assist with training new MLAs and junior Biomedical Scientists.
What is the role of the Specialist Practitioner in Blood Transfusion?
Our Specialist Practitioner in Transfusion works with clinical staff to ensure they have the clinical knowledge and understanding to then provide the highest standards of safety and care for patients receiving blood transfusions. A major element of this is to drive and support the comprehensive 3-step approach to competency assessment used in the Trust. This includes classroom teaching as well as in the clinical environment should that be required. Other elements include writing policy ensuring it meets the most recent national guidelines, investigating errors should they occur to learn the lessons and prevent recurrence, assessing transfusion reactions that can sometimes happen, undertaking audit and acting as an information resource to clinical staff should any queries arise. This is a varied role but success very much depends on the support of clinical staff.