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Marking Healthcare Science Week 2021

12 Mar 2021 09:40:18
Healthcare Science Week 21

Healthcare Science Week is an annual week-long programme designed to promote the amazing work of healthcare science professionals and highlight the difference they make to patients’ lives.

Healthcare Scientists work in areas ranging from Life Sciences (such as Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genomics), Physical Sciences (such as Clinical Engineering and Nuclear Medicine), Physiological Sciences (such as Audiology, Cardiology and Respiratory) and Bioinformatics. Together we provide a vital service to the running of the hospital.

Healthcare Science Week is the Trusts’ chance to tell the local community and other health professionals first-hand about how science and technology is vital in modern patient care and changes lives for the better. It’s also an invaluable opportunity for existing healthcare science staff to inspire the next generation of healthcare science staff by promoting the new career structures in local schools and colleges.

To highlight Healthcare Science Week, we spoke to our Respiratory Physiologists about their roles at the Trust. 

Name: David BakerDavid Baker  

Job title: Highly Specialist Respiratory Physiologist and Respiratory Physiology Training Lead

Tell us a little about your role 

“My role is very varied with a mix of patient contact, reporting and training. Most of my work is patient facing and involves performing diagnostic respiratory testing on a range of patients, including lung function testing, oxygen assessments and sleep investigations. As Respiratory Physiologists we have responsibility for reporting on the results we obtain for the consultants and often perform much more specialised respiratory testing when required.

“I’ve recently moved into a role that involves training so I am responsible for new students that start in respiratory physiology. The department has really embraced apprenticeships as a way of increasing workforce numbers and we currently have two degree level apprenticeship students and three level 2s who have just started this year. It’s a lot of work but very rewarding.”

How did you get into Respiratory Physiology/Healthcare Science?   

“Like most people who get into a Healthcare Science role, when I originally saw the job advert and applied, I had really limited knowledge of any jobs in secondary care that weren’t a doctor or nurse. The trainee position looked challenging and fitted my education in science and my experiences working with people as a stop-smoking advisor. I knew I wanted to work with patients but until this role I didn’t really know in what way.

“I started as a trainee clinical Respiratory Physiologist 10 years ago and completed a BSc in Clinical Physiology whilst completing a four year placement at Rotherham Hospital. Since qualification I’ve continued to work at Rotherham developing my knowledge and skills over this time until finally moving into more of a training role.”

What do you like about the job?

“I love the patient facing side of my job and that’s one of the reasons I got into the profession in the first place. I like the fact the job requires an understanding of the underpinning knowledge of how the diagnostic equipment works. It often requires us to be able to troubleshoot problems if there are issues with the technology we use to obtain results but sometimes we have to rely on Clinical Engineering to help. I think that link between science/technology and patient care is what attracts a lot of people to healthcare scientist roles.”

What don't you like about the job?

“Like most healthcare science professionals, not many people know who we are or what we do. Unless you’ve been a patient at the hospital with direct contact with a Physiologist or technologist or work alongside us in the hospital, you wouldn’t know we existed! I think that’s why it’s important to use times like Healthcare Science Week to promote our profession.”

If there was one thing that you would want people to know about Respiratory Physiology/Healthcare Science, what would it be?

“I’d want everyone to know that Healthcare Scientists are the scientific backbone of the NHS making up only five per cent of the NHS workforce but underpin 80 per cent of diagnoses.  

“Healthcare Scientists work in areas ranging from Life Sciences (such as Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genomics), Physical Sciences (such as Clinical Engineering and Nuclear Medicine), Physiological Sciences (such as Audiology, Cardiology and Respiratory) and Bioinformatics. Together we provide a vital service to the running of the hospital.

“It’s a great, varied profession to work in and gives you the chance to use scientific knowledge whilst contributing to patient care and the patient experience. So if people are looking for a career change or if they know anyone just starting their career thinking they may want to work in the NHS, healthcare science could be a great place to start.”

If you would like any more information about Healthcare Science careers or Healthcare Science Week.


Name: Gwen EllisGwen Ellis

Job title: Respiratory Physiologist 

Tell us a bit about your role:

“I work directly with patients and my job involves the diagnosis and treatment of lung disease and sleep disorders. I perform a wide range of routine and highly complex diagnostic tests to assess all aspects of lung function and assess sleep disorders by using a variety of non-invasive sleep measuring systems including Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). 

“I am responsible for ensuring that safe, accurate, reliable and repeatable results are produced.”

Tell us about your background:

“I have worked for the NHS since 2002 and have worked in the Respiratory Physiology department in Rotherham Hospital since 2008. I first worked as an Assistant Technical Officer and completed many professional qualifications including the ARTP Spirometry Certificate and the ARTP Associate Practitioner qualification. I qualified as a Respiratory Physiologist in 2020 after completing the Degree Apprentice Level 6 in Healthcare Science at Sheffield Hallam University.

“As a Respiratory Physiologist I enjoy listening to patients and performing diagnostic tests. I use a variety of skills, techniques and equipment. The testing of patients often requires considerable encouragement, technical accuracy and quality and at the same time using a caring approach. My job role is quite varied which can involve direct contact with patients or analysing/reporting results. I think the job is rewarding. The Respiratory Physiology department is a busy department. Sometimes the role can be overwhelming when it is busy but this is why time management is important for this role.”

One thing you’d like people to know about Respiratory Physiology:

“An ‘ology’ is the knowledge of a subject. Therefore as Respiratory Physiologists we have expert knowledge of the respiratory system but our job also involves having knowledge of the cardiovascular system and sleep science.”