Lecturer hopes new status will ensure public protection

A Swansea University lecturer has become one of the first cardiac physiologists in Wales to be registered as a Clinical Scientist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Emma Rees, a cardiology lecturer in Swansea University College of Human and Health Sciences, has been accepted onto the HCPC Clinical Scientist register and hopes that other cardiac physiologists will work towards obtaining registration in a bid to ensure public protection. 

HCPC is a regulator tasked with protecting the public. To do this, they keep a register of health care professionals who meet high standards of training, professional skills and behaviour. The professional title of Clinical Scientist can only be used by those on the register and members of the public can check whether a Clinical Scientist involved in their care is registered with HCPC.

Cardiac physiologists work with patients who have suspected or known heart disease. Their role involves performing cardiac tests, making judgements about heart function and reporting their findings to a doctor who will decide how to treat a patient based on the test findings. In some cases, those working at the highest levels lead a clinic where they have sole responsibility for patient care and diagnosing abnormalities. Despite the significant responsibility of this role, and regular campaigning by the profession, cardiac physiologists have not previously been able to register with a regulatory body in the same way as doctors and nurses.

However, recent changes in the career framework and the establishment of an Academy for Healthcare Sciences have led to a new route that allows cardiac physiologists working at scientist level to access the HCPC register. Emma was part of a Welsh Government pilot project designed to test this new route.

Emma said: ‘I am delighted that cardiac physiologists working at scientist level can finally access a statutory register. This will ensure that the best standards of care are achieved since patients who are unhappy with the behaviour or skills of a registered Clinical Scientist may raise their concerns with HCPC who can take action to stop the individual practising if necessary. This is a momentous step for the profession in Wales and the rest of the UK and I hope that many more cardiac physiologists will be inspired to work towards registration.’