NHS England sets out its vision for personalised medicine

8 September 2016

NHS England launched its report Improving Outcomes Through Personalised Medicine   yesterday at the Health and Innovation Expo 2016.  

In setting out for the public why personalised medicine is important for the NHS and the future opportunities it presents, the report outlines a vision for the next five years which will see:

  • Whole Genome Sequencing for specific conditions
  • Improved diagnosis of rare conditions and a better understanding of cancer
  • Strengthened and integrated informatics capability  

By 2025, NHSE anticipates disease will be classified by their underlying genetic cause and that patient care will take more of an integrated whole body approach that incorporates tailored and more effective therapies. 

The report is a welcome indication that NHS England has made the development of personalised medicine a clear priority. This is an important first step. It does not outline any new commitments but provides a useful overview for the public of NHS England’s current personalised medicine-related activities, including the 100,000 Genomes Project and the 13 Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs).

As we regularly point out (as just one example) the challenge of implementation is in the detail. How the current work of 100,000 Genomes Project and GMCs will come together to deliver an integrated approach to personalised medicine across the health system remain unclear. However, although light on detail, the report is explicit about its commitment to work with relevant partners to ‘inform and shape the NHS’s approach to personalised medicine’ and ‘develop an enabling framework’. It also acknowledges that ethical, equality and economic implications must be addressed if personalised medicine is to be implemented effectively and sustainably. So, a lot needs to be done to translate NHSE’s vision into practice.

We look forward to engaging with NHS England on the broader implementation programme for personalised medicine, which has the potential to see important health benefits for our population and improvements in the quality and efficiency of NHS services.