NHS England network of genomic laboratory hubs to become operational in 2018

Seven national genomic laboratory hubs will become operational by November 2018.

[London, UK] NHS England is setting up a new national network of genomic laboratory hubs that will see seven defined geographical areas across the country provide genome testing services for rare disease, cancer and other conditions.

The procurement will start next month and NHS England, which confirmed the hubs are expected to become operational by November 2018, said the geographical lots will be defined as part of this process.

The seven hubs will have to interface with the Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) service, with full requirements to be published in the final tender document, while aiming to establish a set of national standards.

The project, funded by NHS England, will support ‘mainstreaming’ of genomic services across the NHS, the overall research and innovation agenda and the development of local networks of subcontracted WGS providers to offer comprehensive services.

“The new national network of laboratory hubs will provide high quality, standardised and high throughput services that are equitable and cost effective as well as being responsive to rapidly evolving scientific advances,” indicated a prior information notice published by Arden & Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) on behalf of NHS England.

“This is a really exciting time for all of us working in this fast-moving area, which has so much potential to transform patient outcomes and experience,” wrote Professor Sue Hill, NHS Chief Scientific Officer for England, in a blog on Delivering the Genomic Dream.

Earlier this year, the Science and Technology committee launched a new inquiry on genomics and genome editing in the NHS, based on recommendations made by Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, in the Generation Genome report:

“To make this dream a reality across England and secure the vision of NHS transformation needed, as well as build on the 100,000 Genomes Project, we need to: embed national standards; streamline laboratories; and, in a secure environment, agree to use of data for our own benefit and others’.”

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