Healthcare scientists

Healthcare Scientists are an essential part of the NHS workforce and are the fourth largest clinical group in NHSScotland. Healthcare scientists are integral to today's multi-disciplinary healthcare team, contributing to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation services. Collectively they contribute to 80% of all diagnosis and treatment.

The Chief Healthcare Science Officer (CHCSO) provides professional leadership for the 6,000 healthcare scientists working in the NHS, including more than 50 separate scientific specialisms.

The CHCSO also works to develop the clinical leadership capacity and capability of healthcare scientists. The CHCSO encourages better use of science to address healthcare and social care policy agendas. 

More information is in the following links:

Life sciences

Healthcare scientists roles cover the three strands of life sciences including those specialising in:

  • blood science
  • cellular science
  • genomics and infection science

Each has its own particular focus.


Human genomics is the study of all of a person’s DNA, or genome, rather than just a single gene (genetics). We have allocated funding to four United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)-accredited NHS genomics laboratories, which carry out genetic and genomic tests for a number of conditions, including rare diseases and multiple forms of cancer. 

In addition to supporting the Genome UK strategy, we will also be publishing our own genomics strategy in the course of 2023.

The Scottish Strategic Network for Genomic Medicine

In May 2022, we announced a new strategic network for genomics – The Scottish Strategic Network for Genomic Medicine – to engage with clinicians, academics, industry and others in order to deliver on a genomics health service for Scotland. We have also funded a genomics transformation team within NHS National Services Division to support the network. 

Physical sciences

Physical Sciences have a responsibility for developing new techniques and technology to measure what is happening in the body and to diagnose and treat disease. These might include proton beam therapy, ultrasound, radiation, magnetic resonance imaging and clinical photography to explore or record the workings of the body.

Physiological sciences

Physiological Sciences has direct interaction with patients and uses the very latest techniques and equipment to identify any abnormalities and help to restore body functions, such as problems with the heart and lungs, hearing, vision or nervous system. 

Clinical bioformatics

Clinical bioinformatics is a fourth emerging workforce, responsible for developing and improving methods for acquiring, storing, organising and analysing biological data that supports the delivery of patient care.

 We have provided a list of healthcare science roles for more information. 

Delivery plan

We published a Healthcare Science National Delivery Plan in May 2015. 

The aim of the plan is to drive improvement and maximise the contribution of healthcare science to the delivery of sustainable and coherent teams and services.

The delivery plan created the framework for five improvement programmes:

  • streamlining health technology management
  • effective point-of-care testing
  • demand optimisation
  • developing sustainable services
  • a new integrated model for clinical physiology services

Demand optimisation

Demand optimisation is about providing the right test at the right time to the right person in the right way. This can reduce or eliminate unnecessary testing and enhance decision-making in patient care.

In February 2017 we published demand optimisation in diagnostics: standardising diagnostic testing in NHS Boards. The report highlights current good practice, guidance on strategy and support for implementing demand optimisation.

We funded the National Demand Optimisation Group (NDOG) in 2017 to develop a national approach to promote more appropriate laboratory testing. More information on the work of the NDOG is available on the National Demand Optimisation website.

More information

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