Professor Christopher Foster from the University's School of Cancer Studies carried out the audit of academic pathologists working in the UK and found that the number of academic pathologists has decreased by 40% in the past year alone. His research also indicated a decline in the number of UK students choosing to enter the profession.

The Department of Health has responded to the study by establishing new clinical roles and lecturing posts to fill the void left by the drop in practicing pathologists in the UK. In addition, cancer research charities are helping to set up new centres of cancer pathology training to recruit pathologists focused on cancer research.

"The loss of working clinical academics is directly linked to the conflicting academic and service pressures they face, as well as staggering workloads. Additional pressure is felt in light of the upcoming Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in which the quality of their research is assessed and reported to the four major higher education funding bodies on behalf of their individual university”, said Foster.

"Many academic pathologists consistently work in excess of 60 hours per week to meet their academic requirements while simultaneously dealing with NHS work lists at the same time. Although academic with clinical commitments find it difficult to compete against full-time medical researchers, their knowledge and understanding is of fundamental importance to a wide spectrum of clinical and basic scientific research”, added Foster.

The effect on research has led to many higher education institutions moving pathologists from their university posts into positions in the NHS. This has led to senior researchers choosing to retire to avoid the change in job role, a trend which is reflected in the 40% loss of senior academic pathologists in the past year.; Source: University of Liverpool