New framework for upskilling the pharmacy workforce in genomics

The National Genomics Education programme has developed a strategic framework with a three-year approach to integrating genomic medicine into pharmacy education and training

Advancements in genomics have affected all aspects of healthcare over the last decade and one of the key areas in the last few years has been pharmacogenomics.

The development of personalised medicine through improvements in predicting, preventing and diagnosing disease, and the use of precision medicines, was part of NHS England’s 2022 strategy, Accelerating genomic medicine in the NHS.

Now, two years on, NHS England’s National Genomics Education programme has devised a strategic framework to support the incorporation of genomics into pharmacy education and training.

Strategic aims

The framework sets out four strategic aims that outline the tools and resources required to achieve the goal of integrating genomics medicine into routine pharmacy care. These are:

  1. Integrate awareness of genomics as part of pharmacy practice
  2. Build and join networks
  3. Identify pharmacy genomics workforce needs
  4. Educate and develop the pharmacy workforce

Advances in personalised medicine

Medicines are the most common therapeutic intervention in healthcare, yet the efficacy and safety of many drugs have considerable interpersonal variation. Genomics provides a more precise approach through the following advancements:

  • Gene therapies: utilising cutting-edge technology to deliver tailor-made genetic material into a patient’s cells to treat disease.
  • Targeted treatments: based on an increased understanding of the genomic basis for disease and diagnosis.
  • Pharmacogenomics: guiding treatment decisions and dosing using genomic information to predict response to medicines.
  • Repurposing: insights into genomic variations, biological pathways and mechanisms of disease can enable identification of new uses for existing medicines.
  • Predicting resistance to medicines: considering genomic characteristics of tumours and infectious organisms to predict resistance to treatment.

The future of NHS pharmacists

The NHS in England already has well-developed pharmacy expertise, which includes expert clinical leadership from the pharmacy clinical leads across the seven NHS Genomic Medicine Service Alliances. Within prescribing practice, many pharmacists are already able to prescribe independently and all newly qualified pharmacists will from 2026.

This strategic framework will ensure that training and education will reach the wider pharmacy workforce as well as providing additional opportunities for pharmacy professionals to develop high-level knowledge and expertise in genomics.

You can read the full Pharmacy genomics workforce, education and training strategic framework on the NHS England website.

Finally, our huge thanks to Emma Groves, North East and Yorkshire Genomic Medicine Service Alliance lead pharmacist (genomic medicine), and Vicky Chaplin, NHS England pharmacy genomics lead, for their hard work and leadership in developing the framework.