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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Into the foreground: The emergence of healthcare science and public consciousness

At this year's Teddy Chester lecture Berne Ferry, Head of the National School of Healthcare Science, will be speaking on the topic of healthcare science and the leadership of scientists in the NHS.

Event Time
29 Nov 18:00 - 29 Nov 19:00
Event Location
Alliance Manchester Business School (online also available)
Event Type

Berne Ferry, Head of the National School of Healthcare Science, will deliver this year’s Teddy Chester lecture Into the foreground: The emergence of healthcare science and public consciousness.

This annual lecture marks the contribution of Teddy Chester, who was the first professor of social administration at the University of Manchester. From his appointment in the early 1950s, to his retirement in the 1970s he was an influential pioneer in management development, using evidence and research with policy makers, and working with clinical leaders. He was involved in founding and leading the NHS Graduate Training Scheme, and in founding Manchester Business School

Into the foreground: The emergence of healthcare science and public consciousness

Healthcare science has a long and varied history, encompassing over fifty distinct specialties working in the NHS. Around 55,000 NHS scientists are employed in hospital and community services, some of them working at consultant and director level. Until the advent of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, public perceptions of scientists working in healthcare varied from being non-existent to a vague perception of an individual in a white lab coat, wearing safety glasses and peering through a microscope within the basement of a hospital. COVID-19 increased the visibility of the immensely diverse work of healthcare scientists and allowed patients and NHS colleagues to begin to recognise what a valuable resource the NHS had in this small but integral NHS workforce.

Two years on, the perception that fellow NHS professionals and the public now have of NHS scientists and scientists in general has altered irrevocably. Fellow NHS colleagues and NHS patients are not only interested and open to scientists being involved in patient care but genuinely want to engage with the science behind their tests and their treatment.

This talk will describe how, in the 2000s, a disparate collection of healthcare sciences was coalesced into a unifying concept that led to the rise of the ‘healthcare scientist’ as a key actor in UK healthcare diagnosis, treatment and innovation. Berne will outline the long and continuing journey that led to the emergence of the profession of healthcare science, give examples of how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this and consider how healthcare science and the need for scientists to step up into NHS leadership roles will develop into the future.

Berne Ferry

Berne is the Head of the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) in HEE, is an associate fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, UK and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. The NSHCS operates as the national deanery for the training of all scientists in the NHS Nationally where Berne has led on the training and education of the healthcare science (HCS) workforce since 2017.

Since 2017, the numbers of NHS scientists trained across masters and doctoral level programmes has doubled and the numbers of scientific specialty traineeships have also grown considerably.

This year, Berne was recognised for her work, including leading the continuation of scientific training during the COVID pandemic, by the award of an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Biomedical Science and a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Healthcare Science from NHS England’s Office the Chief Scientific Officer.

Previous to joining HEE, Berne was Consultant Clinical Scientist in the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) where she led the Clinical Laboratory Immunology service and set up and directed the Clinical Immunology Translational Research Lab.

Her first degree in Immunology was at Glasgow University, and her PhD in Cancer Research is from Nottingham University. Berne went on to her first postdoctoral position at the University of Helsinki where working with world leaders in renal transplantation, she contributed to understanding the role of the MHC in hastening transplant rejection. Her second postdoctoral position was at the University of Oxford where she applied ideas and techniques from solid transplantation to explore the role the immune system plays in maternal foetal relationship. In 1987, she was awarded a competitive Unilever junior research fellowship at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, and went on to become a research fellowship at the same college. From 1989-1994 she was a senior lecturer at Brunel University where she ran the MSc in Immunology and established a new master’s degree in medical Genetics and Immunology. Working at Harefield Cardiology Department and the London Brompton hospital, she continued her research understanding the role of the immune system in cardiac transplantation.

She returned to Oxford to join the NHS and take up a position in the clinical immunology department. There, she developed her clinical experience in Immunology, gained the FRCPath by examination and become the first scientist to lead this large national and internationally known Diagnostic Immunology Laboratory. She led research in antibody deficiencies and novel assays to assess the functional defects in a range of chronic illnesses. Berne chaired the UK Professional Group for Scientists in Immunology, on the ACB council, National Immunology rep at Academy of Health Care Science. She sat on the NICE guideline development group, has over 100 peer-reviewed published papers, lectured in the USA, Czech Republic, UK, Australia, and Scandinavia at conferences and on invited visits.

This event will be facilitated by Ann Mahon, Professor of Health Leadership and Head of the Health Management Group, Alliance MBS.

There will be welcome refreshments served at Alliance MBS from 5:30pm before the lecture begins at 6:00pm.