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MPC Annual Reports


MPC Annual Report 2016

Representation: Despite challenging circumstances, the Microbiology Professional Committee continued to contribute to the development of our profession throughout 2016. We represent microbiology within the ACB on various internal committees, including Scientific, Education and Work Advisory Committees, the Federation of Clinical Scientists and at regional meetings. We also comment on NICE guidance and laboratory standards. We represent the ACB at the Royal College of Pathologists on the Specialist Advisory Committee, the Trainees Advisory Committee and the Clinical Sciences Committee.

Financial constraints and organisational restructuring: Unfortunately, 2016 brought significant financial constraints and organisational restructuring affecting members in NHS and Public Health laboratories. The restructuring of the food, water and environment laboratories in Public Health England (PHE), has been dramatic, with the number of laboratories providing this specialist and essential national service being reduced from five to just three, with a significant loss of experienced staff. The formation of the National Infection Service has also created significant anxiety for many of our members working for PHE, especially in relation to future roles.

The Scientist Training Program & objective structured final assessments: The Scientist Training Program (STP) is well established with district general and teaching laboratories now hosting and providing STP training. One difficulty facing trainees was the discontinuation of the infection MSc by Nottingham University leaving only a single provider (Queen Mary University of London) offering this key taught component for training. The lack of a course outside London has made training very difficult for those not able to commute to London easily. During 2016, there was an increase in the number of ACB members helping with the delivery of objective structured final assessment (OSFA) questions or supporting the process as assessors, leading to the development of several new stations for the 2016 exams. This enthusiasm has continued and after a gap analysis of the current bank of questions, several new exam questions have been developed, more are being drafted and are progressing well.

Equivalence: A number of the committee members, including Dr Kate Templeton, are involved in the STP equivalence process and have undertaken assessments and provided training. Many of our members becoming STP assessors are already Association of Clinical Scientists assessors and this has helped with the process. With potential changes in funding and STP recruitment, it is expected that we will see an increase in the number of applications for registration via the equivalence route.

Meetings: The annual scientific meeting of the ACB Microbiology Professional Group was held on 10th November 2016 at Public Health England, Colindale, London. The theme was “Infections in migrants and travellers: the exotic, the unusual and the everyday” and covered enteric infections, tuberculosis, diphtheria, travel and migrant health, Ebola virus, Zika virus and the role of the rare and imported pathogens laboratory in Porton Down. The meeting was attended by around 60 ACB members and non-members from across the UK. The event was kindly sponsored by bioMérieux, Mast Group and BioConnections, and supported by the ACB Office. Many thanks are due to Naomi Gadsby, and all who worked tirelessly to make this event a great success. We recently reviewed the composition of the committee membership and a large proportion are grade 8A and higher. We would welcome more engagement and involvement in council to represent the needs of our members and to highlight the challenges that we all face. As there are many demands on our time, it can be hard for an individual to support and attend all of the meetings required, therefore we would encourage more members to share the work load in representing our profession. If you wish to get involved in any way, no matter how small, please do get in touch and join us.

Chair: Dr Kirsty Dodgson
Secretary: Dr Moira Kaye


MPC Annual Report 2015

2015 has been a difficult year for us all. Financial cuts and organisational restructuring have resulted in varying degrees of disruption. Members have seen demands on their time stretched to new limits. The restructuring of many NHS laboratories and the setting up of Public Health England’s National Infection Service (NIS) have led to periods of uncertainty and upheaval for many. The ongoing consultation regarding the Food, Water and Environment Laboratories continues to leave many with an uncertain future, but despite all of this we have however as a group still managed to be active in support of our profession.

The Scientist Training Programme (STP) is now fairly well established, with a considerable number of laboratories hosting trainees. Trainees who have exited the programme and who now have registration still face the task of finding employment in a challenging financial climate. After several successful years as lead STP Objective Structured Final Assessment (OSFA) station writer, Dr Rob Shorten has handed over to Dr Derren Ready, who will, I am sure, approach this important task with the same level of enthusiasm and professionalism as his predecessor.

A number of members, including Dr Kate Templeton, have been involved in the STP equivalence process and have been undertaking assessments and training. Many of the members seeking to become STP assessors are already assessors for the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS). We expect to see an increase in the numbers of applicants to the equivalence process for both STP and the Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) so anyone who is interested in getting involved please contact us and the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) for details.

The Higher Specialist Scientific register is now accepting applications onto its early implementers programme and again members of the professional group have given their time and professional advice to undertake training and some of the first assessments. This will be an ongoing piece of work. The portfolio of evidence that needs to be submitted will be in some ways similar to the ACS Route 2 portfolio. I can envisage that we as a professional group will be increasingly asked for advice and guidance regarding this route. I would urge any members who are interested to get involved in training and assessing. The more we are involved, the more professional influence we can exert into this new process.

We have continued to represent microbiology within the ACB at various internal committees including the Trainees’ Committee, Federation of Clinical Scientists, Scientific Committee and Education Committee, and through commenting on NICE guidance and laboratory standards. We have also represented the ACB at the Royal College of Pathologists on the Specialist Advisory Committee, the College Advisory Training Team (CATT) and the Clinical Sciences Committee.

I would like to say a special thank you to Dr Sue Murray who has represented us on a number of college committees over the years and contributed greatly to the new microbiology curriculum for clinical scientists. Sue will be retiring this coming year and will be sorely missed for her wise words and continual support.

The annual scientific meeting of the ACB Microbiology Professional Committee was held on 6th October 2015 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Postgraduate Conference Centre. The theme of the meeting was ‘Antimicrobial drug resistance: current challenges and future threats’. It was kindly sponsored by bioMérieux and Pro-Lab and supported by the ACB office. Nine speakers from around the UK spoke on topics including drug resistance in salmonella, gonorrhoea and malaria infections, carbapenemase-producing bacteria, antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from animals and testing for antiviral drug resistance. The meeting was very successful and well attended by approximately 40 delegates including ACB members and non-members from NHS, PHE and industry. Many thanks to Naomi Gadsby and all who worked tirelessly to make this event a success.

We continue to be committed to representing your views as clinical scientists in microbiology and virology. If you want to get involved in any way, no matter how small, please do get in touch and join.

MPC Annual Report 2014

2014 was the year where a lot of committee members’ efforts over the last few years started to bear fruit. We have, despite small numbers, been providing professional body advice to a number of organisations around what was Modernising Scientific Careers. The first batch of microbiology STPs exited the programme this year and were eligible to apply for registration as clinical scientists. Seeing the completion of this endeavour after all the input into the curriculum, training assessment and examinations process was satisfying for most who have been involved. A good number of members wrote the questions for the objective structured final assessments (OSFAs ) and a many more were assessors at both the mock and the actual OSFAs. A lot of work was involved, but in the end was successful.

This year we finally saw recruitment to the Higher Specialist Scientist Trainee (HSST) programme, something that has been long awaited by many. Committee members again were involved in both selection and interviewing. Nearly all the HSST posts in microbiology were in service trainees, reflecting the desperate need for these higher training posts. Most new HSSTs are ACB members and I hope all will get involved to further shape these training posts to deliver the high quality calibre scientific leaders of the future.

I have said it before but will say it again that I am continually impressed by the selflessness of committee members to get involved in shaping and influencing the training and future of our specialty for the better. If you are interested in being involved or think things could be done better, please get in touch so we can get you involved. We are always looking for new members to drive things forward and represent our views.

We have continued to represent microbiology within the ACB at various committees including trainee representation, the Federation of Clinical Scientists, Scientific Committee, Education Committee and through commenting on NICE guidance and laboratory standards.

The Scientific Committee members worked tirelessly this year to contribute at EuroLabFocus. This was a bit touch and go at times owing to a large number of late registrations but I would like to thank everyone who worked on this to make it a success. The MPG annual scientific meeting took place this year on in conjunction with the EuroLabFocus meeting. It was organised by Naomi Gadsby and Moira Kaye with support from other committee members, the ACB office staff and the meeting’s local organisers. The title of the meeting was, ‘Next generation sequencing – current and future uses in diagnostic microbiology’, and was well attended with approximately 50 delegates and speakers from across the UK. The meeting began with a talk by Jane Greatorex on the experience in Cambridge implementing next generation sequencing (NGS) for HIV resistance testing, followed by a perspective from Claudio Köser on the impact of rapid whole-genome sequencing on diagnostic and public health microbiology. Nick Loman from the University of Birmingham then took us into the realms of metagenomics by sequencing. In the afternoon, Matthew Holden from the University of St Andrews took us through his work using genomics to trace the emergence and spread of an MRSA pandemic and Anne Holmes from the Scottish E. coli O157/VTEC Reference Laboratory (SERL) in Edinburgh presented her work using NGS to investigate the epidemiology of E. coli O157. The meeting closed with a talk by Satheesh Nair from PHE Colindale, who has been applying NGS in the Salmonella Reference Service. Feedback from the meeting was positive and we look forward to another successful event in 2015.

One of our trainees, Zoie Aiken, who is now an HSST, organised a trainees’ event in the Trent Region. The idea of the event was to give trainees in the region the opportunity to meet one another, particularly those from different disciplines, listen to a topical lecture from a local expert, to find out more about the ACB from their local representative and Donna Fullerton, Regional Tutor for Biochemistry, and, most importantly, to have an enjoyable evening! Nineteen trainees from as far afield as Mansfield and Leicester congregated at the Canal House in central Nottingham. Professor Will Irving, an honorary consultant in clinical virology at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Professor of Virology at the University of Nottingham gave us a stimulating lecture on viral causes of hepatitis. This was sponsored by the Trent, Northern and Yorkshire Regional ACB Committee.

We continue as a committee to be productive and visible in contributing and shaping microbiology for clinical scientists. 2015 will be another busy year: if you want to be involved please do contact us.

(This page is maintained by the ACB Microbiology Professional Committee)

Updated 19 February 2018

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