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SGP gives oral evidence to the House of Commons inquiry on Genomics and genome editing in the NHS

"Part of the objective of the Scottish Genomes Partnership is to set out exactly what the infrastructure needs to be... the whole pathway needs to be taken into account in the commissioning."

Fiona Murphy, Director of NHS Scotland's National Services Division

28th November 2017

Oral Evidence session for House of Commons Science & Technology Committee Inquiry on Genomics and Genome Editing

The Scottish Genomes Partnership (SGP) has provided oral evidence to the final session of the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee inquiry on Genomics and genomic editing in the NHS.

SGP was represented by Fiona Murphy, Director of NHS Scotland's National Services Division (NSD) in NHS Scotland, which commissions highly specialist services on behalf of NHS Boards in Scotland and co-ordinates population screening and national networks. Within SGP, Fiona is an important member of the Steering Group and Operational Management Committee.

Fiona Murphy, Director NHS National Services Division, House of Commons Science Technology Committee Inquiry Genomics

Fiona Murphy, Director of NHS National Services Division, giving evidence at the House of Commons Science & Technology Inquiry into Genomics and genome editing in the NHS

This House of Commons Science & Technology Committee inquiry examined the Chief Medical Officer for England's (Dame Sally Davies) call in her latest annual report, 'Generation Genome', for mainstreaming genomic medicine in the NHS within 5 years. It takes forward an interim report from the previous Science & Technology Committee and the evidence received before the 2017 UK General Election. The Committee specifically sought input from the devolved nations of the UK, in order to understand how barriers may differ across the UK.
The full transcript from this evidence session can be found here.
The full written submission from SGP can be read here.
More information about the inquiry can be found here.

Key points made to the Committee on behalf of SGP were:

  • The SGP team in Scotland is excited about the potential of genomic medicine, although there are key challenges ahead.

  • Future challenges relate to capabilities to interpret, analyse and store data, as well as education and training for both genomic medicine teams and the wider NHS workforce. Communication with patients and the public is also very important.

  • Genomics services in NHS Scotland operate slightly differently to NHS England: NHS samples are being sequenced locally in Scotland rather than sent to England and there is very close working between the existing consortium of genetics labs in Scotland and University research facilities. Scotland has the biggest concentration of computational genome experts in the UK outside of Cambridge, and through SGP they are working with NHS Scotland on interpretation and analysis of genome data.

  • Financial investment will be required to deliver the required infrastructure for genomics in Scotland.​ SGP is providing evidence to help establish what the future infrastructure for clinical genomics needs to be in Scotland. This not just about providing a new laboratory test; the whole pathway needs to be taken into account for health commissioning. Health economic assessment through the University of Aberdeen is part of the SGP analysis. The aim in Scotland is for new tests to become available when evidence indicates that they are cost-effective and will lead to the best diagnosis for patients.

  • There is close collaboration across the UK to enable geneticists and clinical scientists to share learning and keep up-to-date with the latest research. The GeCIP model of shared clinical interpretation through the 100,000 Genomes Project is one such mechanism. Members of the SGP team are also part of international research to ensure common standards in data formatting, which will support data sharing in the future.

  • Through the SGP collaboration with the 100,000 Genomes Project, NHS Scotland has established a mechanism for sharing data with Genomics England. This has taken some to put in place, but now provides foundations for future data sharing and joint working, which will ultimately benefit all patients.

  • More public awareness is required about what a genome is and the potential benefits from researchers being able to share information about genomic data. Trusted patient organisations can help to deliver messages about health benefits.

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