28 March 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 601
A report published by the PHG Foundation argues there needs to be fairer access to genetics in mainstream medicine. It concludes that the UK's current approach to diffusing specialist genomic knowledge and applications into mainstream medical practice is not effective.
Following a 2003 Government white paper which set out health service plans to diffuse genetics services into GP surgeries, health centres and hospitals, the PHG Foundation reviewed two clinical areas between 2006 and 2009 - ophthalmology and cardiovascular disease.
Although it found that joint clinics, where geneticists work alongside other clinical experts, provided excellent care and were highly regarded both by patients and their families, the report highlighted that access to joint clinics was highly variable throughout the UK. It said this situation was likely to worsen as demand for genetic input into clinical care continues to increase.
The report calls for greater co-operation between the fields of genetics and mainstream healthcare and set out a new approach to enable clinical fields to 'integrate new genetic expertise and genomic technologies into their own clinical pathways'. It recommends that health professionals should sub-specialise in genetics and inherited disorders and regional genetics services take a leading role.
Finally, the report also recommends a review of the provision of genetics tests and the recording of family history.