11 March 2024

This week, the Trust that runs Shropshire’s acute hospitals, is celebrating healthcare scientists who work to provide crucial care and support to patients and other services within the NHS.

National Healthcare Science Week runs from Monday 11 to Sunday 15 March and The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) is recognising the outstanding work of its healthcare scientists.

Science and technology are vital in providing modern patient care and can change lives for the better. Healthcare Science Week raises awareness of the diverse careers in healthcare science and its aim is to inspire the scientific workforce of the future.

There are more than 350 healthcare science staff working across a range of specialisms at SaTH, which runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford.

Their work includes developing cancer treatments, helping to create families through fertility services, diagnosing what is making a patient ill, repairing vital medical equipment such as kidney dialysis machines; and treating patients with heart and respiratory problems.

Professor Jason Kasraie, Consultant Clinical Embryologist and Andrologist at SaTH and also the Trust’s Lead Scientist, said: “Healthcare scientists are some of the unsung heroes of the NHS.

“There are around 50 different specialties ranging from Audiology, Medical Engineering all the way through to Medical Physics. At every stage there are incredibly skilled individuals working with and supporting other clinical staff.

“It is a little-known fact that 80% of all diagnoses in the NHS involve a healthcare scientist or are made by healthcare scientists.

“This week, we are celebrating all of our colleagues in the Trust who, every day, work to help patients and help colleagues to improve patient care.”

Meet some of our Healthcare Scientists

Samantha Bunn
Maxillofacial Prosthetist

Samantha Bunn, a Maxillofacial Prosthetist also known as a Reconstructive Healthcare Scientist

Samantha Bunn is a Maxillofacial Prosthetist also known as a Reconstructive Healthcare Scientist – a role which falls under a branch of clinical healthcare science that deals with the specialist rehabilitation of patients requiring treatment after a traumatic injury, cancer surgery or defects from birth causing malformation. This can involve the making of prosthetic ears, eyes and noses, through to Virtual Surgical Planning and implant design.

Sam said “I joined the trust as an Orthodontic Technician in 1995, then undertook advanced training for a further 3 years in Maxillofacial Prosthetics. I became the Laboratory Manager in 2007 and now the Department has almost doubled in size since I started. In 2019, we were successful in setting up a surgical planning and 3d printing service for the Head and Neck Centre. This allows us to plan and treat all oncology and complex trauma H&N patients that come through our Departments.

“As a laboratory we provide a wide range of clinical and technical services to both the Trust, and external users. We work in conjunction with many departments and receive many in-house referrals, such as Radiotherapy, Audiology and Dermatology to name a few.

“During the pandemic, we had an extra 20 staff deployed to our department to help produce over 86,000 visors, initially inspired by our 3D printing capabilities. We also helped with the design and printing of ventilator parts, which occurred due to a national shortage. For two weeks, the trust relied on our own, homemade, oxygen inlet parts for ventilators.

“What I like most about working in the Maxillofacial Department is how it combines science, art, and working with patients. I always wanted to have a creative job – and seeing the confidence a new prosthesis can give to a patient is extremely rewarding.

“I would wholeheartedly recommend this profession. There are opportunities to train within a hospital setting. It is hard work, requires patience, precision, empathy and a practical mind but it is thoroughly rewarding.” “I do feel very privileged to have a job in Maxillofacial Prosthetics and really fortunate that we have a department here at the Trust offering first-class treatment to patients.”

Marion Tench

Medical Device Training Officer

Marion Tench is the Medical Device Training Officer 

Marion Tench is the Medical Device Training Officer for the Trust. Marion’s career has taken her all over the world. She started by studying with the department of Clinical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in Glasgow. Her list of qualifications include an HNC in Physics, electronics, BSC Hons in Physics, PGCE but to name a few. She has worked in Glasgow, Saudi Arabia and Shrewsbury, and also taught the International Baccalaureate whilst living abroad. Marion works at RSH, PRH and also in the community.

Marion has combined her passion for the sciences with a love of teaching.  She said “I would love to have a Medical Device training team, then we could train more staff on how to use the equipment safely and efficiently, which enables them to treat the patients. The more staff that are trained to use these machines, the more they can help patients.

For anyone interested in a career, not just in her field but in the field of healthcare science, Marion advises getting the right qualifications in Science, English and Maths. The Trust also currently offers a Medical Engineering Apprenticeship, for which more information can be found here.

Hannah Brace

Hannah Brace works as a Reproductive Science Practitioner (RSP) at the Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre

Hannah Brace works as a Reproductive Science Practitioner (RSP) at the Shropshire and Mid Wales Fertility Centre, where they support patients to conceive through a variety of fertility techniques.

Hannah says “One of my main job roles is to act as support staff in the lab to assist the Clinical Embryologists. This involves witnessing all procedures: from oocyte collections, preparing sperm for treatment and embryo transfers to cryopreserving and thawing embryos and gametes; every day is different, and I love the variety that my job offers.

“I perform all aspects of semen analysis, which means I spend some days running clinics in the Andrology department, I prepare dishes for treatment, maintain the filling of liquid nitrogen tanks, where all our embryos are stored. In addition to exciting jobs in the lab, I am responsible for office-based tasks too. For example, ensuring consent forms and screening are up to date before our patients come through for treatment.

“I have three A-levels in Biology, Maths and Geology. I specifically chose science-based subjects, as most universities require this to apply to study science degrees. I then went on to achieve a First-Class Honours degree in Biomedical Sciences, graduating from Newcastle University last summer. Whilst at university, I completed a summer research project with the Reproductive Science research group, and my dissertation involved investigating genetic mutations that may contribute to male infertility. This enabled me to gain experience and improve my knowledge of the field, as I knew I wanted to pursue a career in fertility. I started working as a practitioner immediately after university, learning new practical skills and advancing my understanding of clinical procedures.

“I have now been fortunate enough to gain a place on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) to train as a Clinical Embryologist, as an internal candidate within the trust. This means that in September, I will continue my role as an RSP whilst also completing clinical training and studying part time for a MSc in Clinical Embryology. I have dreamt of a career as an embryologist for many years now, and I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to progress to this stage within my role here at SaTH. I am so excited to become more involved with patient journeys and help them towards their goal of having a baby. I enjoy working in a laboratory environment as well as directly interacting with patients so Clinical Science is the perfect career for me!

“My job can be challenging as it is fast paced at times; you must prioritise the gametes/embryos, ensuring they are kept in preferential conditions as much as possible, therefore remaining calm yet alert as you are handling human gametes. My favourite part of my job is being able to observe how fertilised embryos are developing on the ‘Embryoscope’ viewer. It is amazing to watch the oocytes that have successfully fertilised develop into embryos that could lead to a viable pregnancy!”