Government pledges continued commitment to genomics

The official response to a House of Commons report outlines ongoing focus on genomic technologies and education

In April, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published its report ‘Genomics and genome editing in the NHS‘, setting out a number of recommendations for government. In July, the government published its official response, which demonstrates continued support for the development of genomic technologies that can contribute towards better patient care in the NHS.

The full government response addresses each of the recommendations and outlines its plans to work with stakeholders and partners to realise the UK’s ambitious vision for genomic medicine.

The role of the Genomics Education Programme

With the launch of the Genomic Medicine Service (GMS) coming to the NHS this autumn, the government agrees with the assertion that there is a need for detailed workforce planning and to embed genomics into all relevant curricula and revalidation requirements – work that the GEP has been involved with since its inception.

In preparation for the launch, our programme is working to understand the requirements of both genomics specialists and the wider workforce in order to support with the continued mainstreaming of genomics and the delivery of genomic medicine. The programme will also continue its work in raising awareness of genomics across the NHS.

The government response recognises the important role that the GEP plays and suggests that it remains a core part of Health Education England’s (HEE’s) work over the coming years given the requirements of the healthcare system in this area.

Genomics and the Topol Review

Also mentioned in the government response was the Topol review. Commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, facilitated by HEE and led by Dr Eric Topol, the review was set up to look at the impact of emerging technologies – including genomic technologies – on the roles of future clinicians across the NHS.

The interim report was recently published, and this too brings training and education into focus, exploring the adaptations that will need to be made in order to prepare the future workforce for emerging technologies.

Looking forward

Workforce planning for genomics will span the full range of roles that already support the patient and sample journey – the list of which is growing all the time. Our programme will also work with expert colleagues within HEE and externally to consider the changing demands on the workforce and consider the introduction of new professions.

Meanwhile, the government will continue working with HEE and NHS England, taking into account the conclusions of the Topol review and other relevant reports, to ensure that the NHS workforce is fit for the future and moving towards a world-leading Genomic Medicine Service.

The full Government response document is available online.