What is healthcare science?

There are over 50,000 healthcare scientists working in the NHS and public health services. Together they provide the scientific backbone of the NHS and their work underpins 80% of all diagnoses. Their role stretches across the whole innovation pathway from academic and translational research, to patient-centred service transformation.

The healthcare science profession is uniquely placed to harness the UK’s world class healthcare research base, improve patient outcomes and assist NHS England in its goal to accelerate innovation. Healthcare scientists work in more than 50 specialisms which can be categorised into four groupings:

  1. laboratory (pathology) sciences
  2. physiological sciences
  3. medical physics and clinical engineering
  4. bioinformatics

Healthcare science specialisms 

Laboratory (pathology) sciences

Laboratory (pathology) sciences include the following specialisms:

  • Analytical Toxicology
  • Anatomical pathology
  • Blood transfusion science/transplantation
  • Clinical biochemistry including paediatric metabolic biochemistry
  • Clinical genetics/Genetic Science
  • Clinical embryology and Reproductive Science
  • Clinical immunology
  • Cytopathology including cervical cytology
  • Electron microscopy
  • External quality assurance
  • Haematology
  • Haemostasis and thrombosis
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Histocompatibility and immunogenetics
  • Histopathology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular pathology of acquired disease
  • Phlebotomy
  • Tissue banking

Physiological sciences

Physiological sciences include the following specialisms:

  • Audiology
  • Autonomic neurovascular function
  • Cardiac physiology
  • Clinical exercise physiologist
  • Clinical perfusion science
  • Critical care science
  • Gastrointestinal physiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Ophthalmic and vision science
  • Respiratory physiology
  • Urodynamic science
  • Vascular science

Medical physics and clinical engineering

Medical physics and clinical engineering include the following specialisms:

  • Biomechanical engineering
  • Clinical measurement and development
  • Clinical Pharmaceutical Science
  • Diagnostic radiology and MR physics
  • Equipment management and clinical engineering
  • Medical electronics and instrumentation
  • Medical engineering design
  • Clinical photography
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Radiation protection and monitoring
  • Radiotherapy physics
  • Reconstructive Science
  • Rehabilitation engineering
  • Renal dialysis technology
  • Ultrasound and non-ionising radiation


Bioinformatics include the following specialisms:

  • Clinical Bioinformatics and Genomics
  • Computer science and modelling
  • Specialist Health Informatics and analysis