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Chemical pathology at the Royal College of Pathologists: heading for extinction?
  1. William Patrick Tormey1,2
  1. 1 Department of Chemical Pathology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor William Patrick Tormey, Department of Chemical Pathology, Beaumont Hospital, Beaumont Road, Dublin D9, Ireland; billtormey{at}

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The evolution of chemical pathology has been succinctly traced over the past 60 years.1 ,2 However, developments at the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) have placed the distinctive existence of the chemical pathologist under existential threat. A pathologist is, by correct definition, a physician. It is likely that the fundamental medical training of a chemical pathologist offers a safer context for the interpretation of patient results in clinical practice than the view of a solely laboratory-trained medical scientist. Ascribing equivalence to different professionals is unwise.

Chemical pathologists are regulated in Ireland by the Medical Council and in the UK by the General Medical Council (GMC). There are formal training programmes supervised by the faculty of pathology in Ireland and by the RCPath in the UK. Biochemists in hospitals are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council in the UK and the Irish equivalent CORU—the Health and Social Care Professions Council. The regulatory bodies in medicine and in the healthcare professions require continuing professional development (CPD) activities to remain registered.

Medical regulatory bodies insist that CPD reflects the actual practice of the specialist. In Ireland, CPD is administered through the relevant postgraduate medical training body which, in the case of chemical pathology, is the faculty of pathology of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. This body has no role …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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