How the NHS will embed genomics into pharmacy practice

We take a closer look at the new three-year strategic framework for integrating genomic medicine into pharmacy education and training

Genomics is emerging as a powerful tool to allow a truly personalised approach to healthcare, and is becoming increasingly relevant in medicines optimisation.

NHS England has launched a new pharmacy genomics workforce, education and training strategic framework, which builds on NHS England’s 2022 strategy, Accelerating genomic medicine in the NHS, which placed emphasis on developing personalised medicine through improvements in predicting, preventing and diagnosing disease, and the use of precision medicines. Here, we take a deep dive into the framework and sum up the plans for how pharmacy practice will embrace this exciting technology for the benefit of patients.

Four strategic aims

The new framework uses four strategic aims to set out the ways in which the incorporation of genomics into pharmacy education and training will build on the 2022 strategy. Specifically, these aims outline the tools and resources needed to integrate genomic medicine into routine pharmacy care.

Aim 1: Integrate awareness of genomics as part of pharmacy practice

As the use of genomics becomes more common in informing medicines optimisation, pharmacy stakeholders are encouraged to raise awareness of genomics and its benefits in this field and incorporate it into their practice. Pharmacy professionals should be equipped with enough best practice information to support patients.

By forming collaborations between the NHS Genomic Medicine Service Alliances, pharmacy clinical leads, and professional pharmacy networks and organisations, the framework will support and develop pharmacy genomics champions to raise awareness among pharmacy professionals and push forward the integration of genomics into pharmacy practice.

Aim 2: Build and join networks

The second aim focuses on building collaboration between pharmacy professionals, patients and the public to form a uniform approach to workforce development, education and training.

The framework sets out to develop pharmacy clinical genomics expertise to lead and shape services, and to link research and education to clinical networks. Using existing networks, the work to embed genomic medicine into mainstream pharmacy practice will continue. The framework promotes a ‘do once, learn and share’ approach to knowledge sharing, reducing duplication.

Aim 3: Identify pharmacy genomics workforce needs

So as to empower pharmacy professionals with genomic medicine knowledge and skills, the third aim is to understand and develop their current genomic medicine knowledge, assess current training needs and plan for the future. This work includes education for general and specialist roles as the use of genomic medicine in different services develops.

 Aim 4: Educate and develop the pharmacy workforce

 The final aim looks at how the development of appropriate skills and competency is reliant on the education, training, professional development and support that healthcare professionals receive.

The NHS England Genomics Education Programme and other providers will supply suitable genomics education resources, including proactive learning (from bite-sized resources to Master’s programmes) and reactive learning at the point of need.

The framework aims to integrate genomics with all aspects of education and training for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Access to resources and support for educators will also be developed so that genomics can be delivered effectively in their teaching programmes.

NHS pharmacists of the future

The NHS in England already has well-developed pharmacy expertise, including expert clinical leadership across the seven NHS Genomic Medicine Service Alliances. The strategic framework will ensure that training and education reaches the wider pharmacy workforce and provides 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.

Please note: This article is for informational or educational purposes, and does not substitute professional medical advice.