NHS IT delays are slowing down the ‘roll out of genomics in the UK’, committee warns

MP Norman Lamb, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, is calling on the government to increase investment in digital and allocate funding for technology and systems needed to realise the potential of genomics in the UK.

By
Leontina
Postelnicu

[London, UK] Delays in the digitisation of the NHS are compromising the ‘roll out’ of a Genomic Medicine Service in the UK, the Science and Technology Committee has warned.

A new report published today (20 April) urges the government to address a suite of factors if it wants to fully realise the potential of genomics, including:

  • Investing in digitising practices
  • Training staff
  • Improving public awareness and building support and trust
  • Capitalising on the value of NHS data
  • Releasing an evaluation of the 100,000 Genomes Project.

MP Norman Lamb, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said the development of a Genomic Medicine Service in the UK could ‘dramatically improve health outcomes of UK citizens’.

“Genomics has the potential to revolutionise NHS healthcare, but we are concerned that this potential is threatened by delays in the NHS’ digital projects, reduced genomics training budgets, and potential public concerns over sharing personal health data,” the MP added, calling on the government to increase investment in digital and ‘allocate specific funding to the necessary genomics technology and systems’.

"Given the intention to have the Genomic Medicine Service in operation later this year, the budgets for the required digital infrastructureshould be agreed and confirmed now. Decisions on when to provide whole genome sequencing in place of conventional alternative diagnostic tests should take into account the digital infrastructure available to support it, to avoid attempting to roll out a Genomic Medicine Service at a speed that cannot be delivered," MPs add in the report. 

The committee says it is important to engage in a public debate to improve awareness of the potential arising from data sharing for genomic medicine, which it says ‘will be vital’ for the delivery of an NHS-wide service.

MPs add that the value of the data collected by the NHS, the 100,000 Genomes Project and the Genomic Medicine Service will represent 'the best data resource for genomic medicine in the world’.

"The Government must be ambitious in aiming to capture the full commercial value of the genomic and associated datasets it holds, rather than merely aiming to cover its costs," they say, explaining that income generated could be 'reinvested in the NHS and further benefit patients in the long-term'. 

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Leontina Postelnicu

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