NHS urged to offer patients better access to genetic testing

A new report claims the UK is not capitalising on its current genetic testing strengths.

More must be done to maintain the UK’s mantle as a world leader in genomic medicine, a new report suggests.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) warned the UK’s position could be undermined if patients are not able to benefit from the services on offer.

A new report from the association claims the UK is not capitalising on its current genetic testing strengths and is falling behind some other countries.

This includes slower turnaround time for tests and offering less genetic screening for babies.

With regard to newborn screening, the authors of the report said the UK is “lagging behind European counterparts, such as Italy, Iceland, and Poland, who screen up to four times as many conditions”.

The document outlines how the NHS and pharmaceutical sector can work together to get the best care for patients.

ABPI chief executive Richard Torbett said: “The UK has consistently demonstrated its proficiency in genomics and has solidified its position as a leader in the field for many years.

“Though industry is already working with the NHS to increase access to genomic medicine, more needs to be done to ensure the very best patient outcomes.

“Our recommendations are intended to help the Government, the NHS and the science community work more effectively to help patients feel the benefits of the UK’s world-leading genomics capability.”

NHS England has recently made announcements about enhancing the genetic testing offered to seriously unwell babies.

When doctors suspected genetic illness previously, the child may have needed a battery of tests with results sometimes taking weeks.

Now children will only need to provide simple blood tests, which will be sent for genetic testing at a Devon laboratory.

The results will be returned within seven days so treatment can start within a week, officials announced.

NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard said the new service is the start of a “new era in genomic medicine”.