Further support for clinicians essential for success of genomic medicine, urge experts

10 January 2018

A report published today identifies critical gaps that could hinder efforts to make genomic testing available to all patients that it could benefit.

The report, Genomics in mainstream clinical pathways sets out the findings from a stakeholder summit on implementing genomics into the NHS, convened by the PHG Foundation early in 2017.

Critical to enabling fair and effective access for patients are the processes of referral for testing and interpretation of test results, however the summit of senior clinicians and scientists from clinical genetics and mainstream specialties concluded that:

  • Choosing which patients will benefit from genomic testing and making the right referral is a significant challenge in mainstream medicine
  • It is unlikely that mainstream clinicians will have the knowledge to select the appropriate test in any level of detail
  • There are serious questions about how the process of capturing phenotypic information can be made more effective and efficient

Dr Hilary Burton, Consultant in Public Health at the PHG Foundation and lead author of the report, said:

Clinical geneticists and scientists are already expert in using genomic testing – but it cannot simply be assumed that responsibility for testing can just be transferred to clinicians in other specialties. Most will require considerable support to decide when and how to use genomic testing for their patients and then to take the best clinical decision based on the results. New pathways and systems will need to be set up and the professionals involved will need to be well trained and supported. A sustained development programme involving commissioners and clinicians will be necessary if this is to be achieved on an equitable basis across the UK.


Read highlights from the summit discussion and its conclusions the in PHG Foundation report, Genomics in mainstream clinical pathways

Genomics is important in every area of clinical medicine, and PHG Foundation has an established track record in promoting genomic medicine throughout mainstream clinical practice, through our own work, and through our involvement with the Genomics in Mainstream Medicine Working Group