Students step inside the Pathology lab to unlock the secrets of food allergy and intolerance

What’s the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance? They can both have a big impact on a person’s health and well-being, but how far do we really understand what causes them and how are they identified?

Year 10 students from across Hull will be seeking to discover the answers to these questions and more, as they go behind the scenes with the Pathology Team at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust next week.

To celebrate National Pathology Week (7-13th November), the doors at both Castle Hill Hospital and Hull Royal Infirmary will be thrown open to Sirius Academy, Newland High School, Malet Lambert and Kelvin Hall pupils, in order to shine a light on the work of pathology staff, who are instrumental in 70% of all NHS diagnoses.

With support from the Royal College of Pathologists and various other hospital departments including Dietetics, Immunology, and Infection Control, students will be able to:

• Learn the difference between allergies and intolerances, and then use this learning to make a range of special recipe smoothies on a ‘smoothie bike’
• Examine blood cells through a microscope and use UV light to show where hands have not been washed properly
• Take part in competitions, including ‘Pin the organ on the teacher’ and a race to ‘scoop the poop’ (chocolate cake mixture!) into test tubes
• Tour the pathology labs and learn about the various specialties within pathology, including immunology, haematology, biochemistry, histopathology, microbiology, and virology
• Browse a range of stands and information displays
• Compete in a quiz to determine who has learned the most during the day

Clinical Scientist, Nicola Svenson, is amongst those organising the week’s celebrations. She says:

“National Pathology Week is themed around allergies and intolerance this year, with the aim of showing how pathology teams can help in their diagnosis and how our clinical teams work together to support people with these kinds of issues.

“Whilst young people may not feel they know much about our area of work, they probably will know someone who has an allergy or is intolerant to a certain kind of food, so this is our way of connecting what we do with their real life experiences, and showing how pathology can be part of a solution.”

Nicola and the team are keen to use the day to inspire more young people into scientific careers. She continues:

“The image many people have of pathology is one which the media have built for us through TV programmes such as CSI or Silent Witness, but pathology is about much more than finding cause of death! In fact, the vast majority of our work is focused on keeping people well; diagnosing illnesses, solving problems, and helping other teams across the NHS to provide the right care and treatment for our patients.

“At a recent NHS careers event, many of the students told us they want to know more about pathology, so today is all about inspiring young people, showing them how pathology underpins much of the care the NHS provides, and how varied and satisfying a career in pathology can be.

“Pathology is an exciting and rewarding area to work in, and one which is constantly changing as new techniques and equipment are introduced. By creating a buzz about science and showing how pathology can help in the real world, we’re hoping to be the inspiration for the next generation of local healthcare scientists.”

Pupils from Sirius Academy and Newland High School will visit the Pathology Team at Castle Hill Hospital in the morning of Wednesday 9th November, whilst pupils from Malet Lambert and Kelvin Hall will spend their day at Hull Royal Infirmary in the morning of Thursday 10th November.

For more information, to request interviews or photo/filming opportunities, please contact the Communications Department at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust on (01482) 674486.