Healthcare Science – an insight into working at Pathology First

Matt Jeffery, Operations Manager at Pathology First explains how he achieved his role, how the profession is evolving and what it’s like to lead the team.

Matt Jeffery is the Operations Manager for Cellular Pathology at Pathology First in Basildon, Essex. He is responsible for the histopathology and cytopathology laboratory services for two large teaching hospitals; Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He began his career in pathology 15 years ago, after A-levels and discovering pathology during a work experience placement.

Today Matt is responsible for two busy laboratories and manages 40 staff. He explains: “At Pathology First all urgent tests are processed in the two hospital labs (Essential Service Laboratories) and all non-urgent and specialist tests are undertaken in the ‘hub’ laboratory which is off-site.  The job is evolving as science progresses. New ways to examine tumours decreases turnaround times – we routinely give biopsy results in seven days. We can prioritise patients and put them on a particular cancer care pathway in three to five days. Breast cancer patients now wait just five days for a diagnosis and we are able to inform the clinician of the type of tumour and how it will respond to certain drugs”.

How I got a job at Pathology First

“I always liked sciences but like any teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Following work experience in the Southend laboratory I applied and got a summer placement as a medical laboratory assistant. On leaving college I became a trainee biomedical scientist and over four years I worked with one day off a week to study. I achieved a BSc in Biomedical Sciences and alongside completing the old style log book, I became a qualified Biomedical Scientist. There were three of us that took this route and we still work together now.

I took up the offer to study for a Masters degree in Cellular Pathology and became a Senior Biomedical Scientist following another three years of work and studying. My career progressed and I became a Principal Biomedical Scientist and obtained my current role as Operations Manager of my current teams. Back then my study was funded by the NHS and though things have changed a lot, SYNLAB still funds the studying. It’s vital more people join the profession to counter a drop off as more senior people retire.”

Pathology First was formed in 2014 and is a joint venture between Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and independent sector prover, Integrated Pathology Partnerships (iPP), part of SYNLAB.

About Pathology First:
• 750,000 patients rely on Pathology First for an end-to-end pathology service
• 180 GP practices are serviced by Pathology First
• 14 million tests are processed and reported each year
• 1500 different types of test are available
• Over 750,000 blood samples are collected each year at 19 sites across South Essex

Are you interested in working in pathology or progressing an existing career in pathology?  Click here to see if you could make a different to patients’ lives.