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Meet your new chief executive

David Wells brings a wealth of pathology experience and expertise to this vital post for the profession.

The new IBMS Chief Executive, David Wells, has broad experience in providing and leading pathology services for primary, secondary and tertiary care across all pathology disciplines. His earlier roles have included Lead Healthcare Scientist for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Director of Operations at Viapath. Having worked in both the public and private sector, he has developed considerable knowledge of the profession and developed an approach focused on ensuring the sustainability of pathology expertise for the future.

In his work with the Institute, David has been an IBMS Council Member for the London Region, Chair of the Membership and Marketing Committee and Deputy Chair of the IBMS Special Advisory Group for Clinical Chemistry. He also represented the IBMS on NICE diagnostic advisory panels and various national forums, including as an observer on the Royal College of Pathologists Council and on the Parliamentary and Science committee.

For the past year, David has been leading NHS England’s testing response to COVID-19. He has liaised with ministers and senior health leaders as a subject matter expert and provided leadership for all of the 29 pathology networks, ensuring deployment of technology, staffing and IT resources into the NHS. He has also worked with senior leaders across the NHS, Public Health England, Test and Trace and the Department of Health and Social Care to inform strategy and policy to respond to the pandemic. We caught up with David and asked him what he hopes to achieve in his new role as the IBMS Chief Executive.  

How long have you been involved with the IBMS and why?

My involvement with the IBMS began when I joined the Clinical Chemistry Specialist Advisory Panel. I had reached a point where I felt it was important to start giving back to the profession. I came in as the Deputy Examiner and then became the Deputy Chair of the panel. From there, I stood and was successfully elected for Council, Deputy Chair of the Membership and Marketing Committee and then, finally, Chair.

I got more and more involved because working with the IBMS seemed to be one of the best and most rewarding ways to help the profession progress. I wanted to make sure I did my part. From the outset, it was a great experience – coming together with like-minded people and contributing in broad-reaching ways. Everybody in the room knows that laboratory staff are vital and central to healthcare. As a scientist, it was where I felt most at home.  

What do you hope to achieve as CEO of the IBMS?

Those who know me are aware that I’m passionate about biomedical science and pathology, and I want to see our impact recognised. It’s also important to me that our scientists are more involved in shaping healthcare for the better.

I want to support the profession by raising the profile of our biomedical scientists and clinical scientists, and making sure we develop all the opportunities that our members need. This means ensuring further progress with advanced roles, and maintaining and supporting the equivalence route across the UK.

It’s also important that the greater recognition we have had during COVID-19 is translated into a wider acknowledgement of our role in healthcare. Not only with what we can do currently, but what we can do in the future as technology advances and the UK’s diagnostics industry expands.

As new models of working appear before our workforce, I want to make sure our members are ready to take them on.  

How will you help support IBMS members?

It’s essential that the IBMS continues to support its members’ needs. That’s what we’re here for. The best way of doing this is through education and training – making sure that we continue to offer courses that are relevant to our members, and accessible in ways that make sense to the way they want to learn.

We need to work with government and health bodies to advocate and celebrate what we do, and demonstrate how our work benefits patients and society more broadly.

I aim to make sure that the IBMS works with all bodies working within science and healthcare to progress and support biomedical scientists and laboratory staff wherever they work – academia, healthcare or industry.

All this while retaining all the excellent and independent work the IBMS does in its own right – so that it can speak freely in support of the membership and profession.  

Is there anything you would like to say to IBMS members?

I would like to take a moment to recognise the work that our members have been doing over the past year. COVID-19 is the largest and longest lasting major incident in our countries’ histories, affecting members in the UK but also those across the globe.

It is the first time that biomedical scientists and pathology teams have been in the centre of a major incident and, no matter the size of the contribution, we should all be proud of what we have achieved.

There is a long road to recovery and there has been no let-up this last year. I know how hard it’s going to be – tackling the backlogs in screening, diagnostics and cancer care. Just remember, these challenges will be further evidence of our huge importance to healthcare and we will get through them just like we got through this last year.   

All about David     
  • David Wells has been recognised as one of the 100 most powerful advocates for pathology – making The Pathologist magazine’s annual Power List in 2018, 2019 and 2020.     
  • He has been leading NHS England’s laboratory response to COVID-19 – managing technology deployment, funding and workforce, ensuring that all capacity requirements are met, while also advising ministers and providing policy and strategic direction.     
  • In recognition of his work in transforming England’s pathology services, the Royal College of Pathologists awarded David Honorary fellowship in 2020.

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Image credit | Getty

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