Healthcare Science Support Worker (Life Science)

Healthcare Science Support Workers help and assist senior staff, such as Biomedical Scientists in the provision of a laboratory service. Their duties include the preparation of reagents, labelling biological samples, and using computers to record and study test results.

They may also be required to:

  • register patient related information on to the laboratory information system
  • deal with reception and telephone queries from staff in other departments and external agencies

Healthcare Science Support Workers undertake a range of routine and non-routine clinical laboratory support duties, as requested by registered Healthcare Scientists and practitioners. This may include:

  • collecting and preparing materials and clinical specimens for analysis
  • processing samples being referred to external reference laboratories
  • preparing basic chemical solutions
  • administrative and clerical duties, such as updating patient or specimen details and accessing patient records
  • the safe dispose of clinical waste, such as using an Autoclave to sterilise samples
  • ensuring equipment is clean and sterile, including washing glassware and pipettes
  • maintaining and repairing basic laboratory equipment, such as pipettes and centrifuges, to ensure the safe and effective use of equipment in the laboratory
  • escalating complex equipment issues to the Assistant Practitioner or Biomedical Scientist
  • carrying out specific laboratory tests under the supervision of senior staff
  • receiving, recording, and arranging storage and release of deceased patients from the hospital mortuary

To work as a Healthcare Science Support Worker, useful skills will include:

  • good scientific, technical and practical skills, with excellent attention to detail
  • computer and data entry skills, with a high level of speed and accuracy
  • excellent communication skills
  • organisational skills
  • teamworking skills
  • good problem-solving skills 
  • commitment to the wellbeing of patients

Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to work on your own initiative as well as taking direction from senior staff
  • the ability to follow laboratory processes and procedures
  • empathy and understanding when working directly with patients and relatives
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • the ability to prioritise workload
  • motivation and enthusiasm for learning new techniques
  • acting as a mentor for less experienced colleagues

To apply for a job as a Healthcare Science Support Worker (band 3), you are likely to need a good standard of general education, including English, Mathematics and a relevant science subject.

Qualifications and voluntary work

Previous experience of working in healthcare or laboratory setting is beneficial. This can be either or paid or voluntary work in a hospital or other healthcare setting. You may also require or be encouraged to work towards an SQA Vocational Qualification such as Level 3 Laboratory Associated Technical Activities; Level 3 Life Sciences or Level 3 Healthcare Support (Clinical). Find out more about these qualifications on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website.

The qualifications asked for may vary depending on the specific role and requirements of the recruiting NHSScotland board. You are therefore advised to contact each individual board to find out its specific requirements.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme

Depending on the specific role, you may also need to be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician, and management level.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Life Sciences and the Related Science Industries at SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in the laboratory service in the NHS in Scotland.

For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/our-products/modern-apprenticeships/modern-apprenticeship-frameworks/cogent/life-sciences/

Contact your local NHSScotland board to find out if this Modern Apprenticeship is available in your area.

You will be encouraged to develop your career in NHSScotland and you will be given the training you need for the job including:

  • All Standard Operating Procedures
  • Quality Management Policies
  • External Quality Assessment and Internal Quality Control
  • Laboratory and Hospital Health and Safety
  • Risk Management

In addition, you'll also be required to adhere to local policies and current data protection legislation, such as GDPR.

In NHSScotland, Healthcare Science Support Workers start on band 3 of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system.

During your career, you may have the opportunity to study for additional qualifications, in order to:

  • keep your knowledge and skills up to date
  • become skilled in advanced technologies and learn how to use new equipment
  • progress to more senior or specialist roles in Healthcare Science

Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) Certificate of Achievement

The IBMS Certificate of Achievement allows healthcare science support staff working in laboratory services to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and evidence of laboratory training.

The certificate comes in two parts. Part 1 is open to members and non-members of the IBMS and no previous experience is necessary. In Scotland, candidates for part 2 must be an Associate of the IBMS, have an SCQF Level 6 qualification in biological science and be registered as a Science Technician with the Science Council.

Once you have completed the Certificate of Achievement, you will be able to apply to the IBMS for registration as a Registered Scientist (RSci).

Career pathway

Gaining qualifications will help your career prospects, leading to more senior roles, such as a Healthcare Science Assistant Practitioner or a Biomedical Scientist. They could also provide the opportunity for you to specialise in areas of biomedicine, such as blood sciences, cellular sciences, and infection sciences.

Find out more information from these professional and regulatory bodies: 

Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)

The IBMS is the professional body for biomedical science in the UK. It sets standards of practice to protect patients, funds research and promotes public awareness of biomedical science. Find out more on the IBMS website 

https://www.ibms.org/

The Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS)

The AHCS an umbrella organisation covering training and policy issues for a range of healthcare science roles. Find out more on the AHCS website.

https://www.ahcs.ac.uk