The NHS is renowned for having a loyal staff group who dedicate their entire careers to patient care.
That’s what senior advanced biomedical scientist James France has achieved – in the same year he will finally bow out to enjoy a much deserved retirement.
James joined the NHS in 1971 at the former Winterton Psychiatric Hospital in Sedgefield.
He explains: “Back then, you would rotate between different areas in the laboratories.
“It is hard to believe just how specialised it now is. It has been totally transformed.”
James joined North Tees in 1976 – and has been here ever since.
He says the two key developments during his career were the regional introduction of electron microscopy (in collaboration with Hartlepool and Middlesbrough hospitals) and the development and expansion of immuno-histochemistry.
Electron microscopy allows BMS/consultant staff to visualise cellular details at a much higher magnification (of the order of 1,000 times or more ) than with conventional microscopy.
He says: “It had a massive impact, using electron microscopy enabled definitive diagnoses to be made that previously would not have been possible.
“For example, Amyloidosis, a group of rare, serious conditions caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein (Amyloid ) in organs and tissues throughout the body and Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer usually affecting 10-20 year olds, was diagnosed on the basis of glycogen rosettes in the cytoplasm.
“Immunohistochemistry allows not only the diagnosis of types of cancer but can also predict the outcome for some patients. It can also determine the original, hidden site of a cancer that has spread.
“I’ve been in a career where you always had to be willing to learn and adapt as our understanding of disease processes evolved and technology improved.
“It has been extremely rewarding – helping to diagnose conditions and to contribute to improving outcomes for patients”
“Thank you to all of my colleagues for their support over the years.”
Jim plans to spend his retirement travelling and enjoying his passion for photography, as well as devoting more time with his two daughters and three grand-children.