Healthcare Science Week 2013

Bioengineering – 50th Anniversary

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of a clinical bioengineering service in Edinburgh. To mark Healthcare Science Week several pages have been added to the SMART website giving an historical overview of clinical bioengineering in Edinburgh over the past half-a-century. Click on the banner below to go to the dedicated pages.

What is Healthcare Science all about?

The NHS relies on Healthcare Scientists to help find out exactly what’s wrong with patients, recommend what needs to be done to help them and, in many cases treat them too. They also develop and test new, sophisticated technology and techniques to provide safer and more effective ways to diagnose and manage medical problems and improve patient care. While Healthcare Scientists represent only around 5% of the total workforce in the NHS in Scotland, it has been estimated that almost 80% of patient diagnoses can be attributed to their work. Their work is constantly evolving as science and technology rapidly advances. They are at the forefront of innovation providing safer, more effective ways to care for patients.

The complexities of modern healthcare, including the role of healthcare scientists, is insightfully illustrated by Michael Cockerham’s photostory of his son’s treatment at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in Central London.

Healthcare Science at the SMART Centre

At the SMART Centre, there are two groups of Healthcare Scientists. The Clinical Scientists (Bioengineers) conduct assessments, prescribe and design bespoke medical devices for the Wheelchair and Seating Service, the Special Needs Design Service and the Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) Service. They also provided scientific support, including risk assessment, for other SMART Services, such as the Gait Lab. The Healthcare Technologists (Technicians) assemble, manufacture and repair equipment for all the SMART Services that provide medical devices, including Orthotics and Prosthetics.

The current Edinburgh team of bioengineers.
Back row (left to right): Susan Hillman, Colin Geggie,
Graham Henderson & Michael Dolan. Front row:
David Gow, Jennifer Walsh & James Hollington.

Discover more!

If you wish to discover more about Healthcare Science and Healthcare Scientists, then check out the following websites and documents.

Learn about the real and varied careers of a wide assortment of Healthcare Scientists, including the SMART Centre’s David Gow on page 83, in the Department of Health’s Extraordinary You.

Find out about the Scottish Government’s plans by checking out its Healthcare Science webpage or its 2007 Action Plan Safe, Accurate & Effective. Note that a National Delivery Plan is being developed and should be available soon.

Learn about what NHS Education Scotland is doing to support the education and training of Healthcare Scientists in Scotland at

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Written & compiled by Dr Michael J Dolan, SMART Centre, NHS Lothian, Edinburgh.

First published 15th March 2013. Last updated 19th March 2013. Version 1.1.