With the rollout of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service (GMS) offering patients across England equity of access to genomic testing for the first time, it has never been more important to ensure that the NHS workforce has the right capacity and capabilities in genomic medicine.
The HEE Genomics Education Programme has been working in collaboration with colleagues across the health service and beyond to gather and analyse data on current and projected workforce capacity across a range of professions and levels, and make recommendations to address gaps in numbers and skills.
Why are we undertaking this work?
While the launch of the NHS GMS is a crucial driver, the rationale for this workforce planning activity is underpinned by two important publications.
First is the 2018 report from the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology’s inquiry into genomics and genome editing, whose chair, Norman Lamb MP, noted:
“Evidence to our inquiry warned of gaps in the training needed for the NHS Genomic Medicine Service. We are recommending that the government conduct the required workforce planning and provide the necessary funding to ensure that UK genomics is not held back by a lack of capable practitioners.”
In February 2019, the Topol Review – commissioned by the UK government, led by cardiologist, geneticist and researcher Dr Eric Topol, and facilitated by Health Education England – made eight key recommendations about genomics in the NHS in its final report, including:
“Capacity should be built within the NHS Genomic Medicine Service through support for specialist healthcare professionals including genomic counsellors, clinical scientists and specialists in genomic medicine.”