NHS should lead world in genomics & personalised medicine

4 June 2014

Simon Stevens, the new chief executive of NHS England, is calling for the National Health Service (NHS) to become a world leader in personalised medicine based on genetic information.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Stevens will use his first major policy speech at the annual conference of the NHS Confederation for NHS managers to highlight the need for three fundamental shifts in the practice of modern medicine. These are in biomedicine, in health and care data, and in the role of patients in their own health and care.

The NHS will be urged to embrace and harness personalised medicine as what he terms a ‘global medical revolution’ with scope to deliver more effective individualised care based on genetic profiling. He will also look ahead to the potential reclassification of specific common diseases into multiple rarer sub-conditions, requiring greater stratification of diagnosis and treatment – and, one might argue, also of risk prediction and disease prevention.

Besides saying that the NHS is at a ‘defining moment’, Mr Stevens is also announcing a call for competitive applications from teaching hospitals and clinical research centres to become part of the 100,000 Genomes Project run by Genomics England; the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership (GECIP) launch is to be held at the end of June. The speech is also anticipated to include reference to the need for NHS England to move to a new model for regional genetics laboratories ‘to upgrade and industrialise NHS capabilities in this area’.

PHG Foundation Director Dr Hilary Burton commented: “It is great to see genomics receiving so much attention in the NHS; the PHG Foundation will continue to support efforts to realise use in the UK health system”.

Live coverage of the NHS Confederation meeting is available from the Guardian.

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