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Healthcare science

Woman in laboratory

The healthcare science team plays a vital role in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a huge number of medical conditions, as well as in the rehabilitation of patients. Along with other health professions, healthcare science staff are essential members of today's healthcare team.

Almost any patient investigation or treatment depends on the work done by healthcare scientists - from biomedical scientists providing diagnostic information on blood and tissue, to clinical perfusionists enabling surgeons to perform complex procedures on the heart and lungs. Healthcare scientists influence around 80% of clinical decisions and are increasingly being recognised for their vital role in delivering health care.

Most healthcare scientists are also involved in research, developing new methods of detecting and monitoring disease, designing new equipment, and introducing treatments.

Rapid advances in technology mean this is now one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding areas of the NHS.

Many healthcare scientists work directly with patients at some time in their career. Healthcare scientists work in one of the following broad areas:

In Wales, we also include Radiographers (both Diagnostic and Therapeutic) and operating Department Practitioners within Healthcare Science, referring to them with their professional titles:

Healthcare Science Training Routes

Careers and training in healthcare science has been revitalised by Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC).  Coupled with academic learning, training is more consistent and patient focused. This allows trainees at all levels to gain practical and engaging workplace experience as soon as they start.

Routes into healthcare science include:

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Clinical engineering and medical physics

The healthcare science team in this area use their skills to develop methods of measuring what is happening in the body, devise new ways of diagnosing and treating disease and ensure that equipment is functioning safely and effectively.

Life sciences

Healthcare science staff may also be responsible for developing new treatments for common medical problems, such as infertility or allergies.

NHS practitioner training programme (PTP)

The undergraduate Practitioner Training Programme leads to an approved and accredited BSc honours degree in healthcare science, which leads to registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The degrees fall under one of the five themes of healthcare science:

NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)

The Scientist Training Programme (STP) is a three-year national training programme. Successful applicants to STP training posts in Wales are employed by an NHS Wales organisation for the duration of their training with a salary at Band 6 level.

Surgery room
Operating department practitioner

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are a vital part of the multidisciplinary operating theatre team, providing a high standard of patient focused care during anaesthesia, surgery and recovery, responding to patients’ physical and psychological needs.

Physiological sciences

Healthcare science staff who work in the physiological sciences investigate the functioning of organ/body systems to diagnose abnormalities and find ways to restore function and/or reduce disabling consequences to the patient.


Radiographers care for people who are unwell, in pain and may be anxious or uncertain about what is going to happen.