We are world leading in genomics and should celebrate that. A recent trial at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge provided whole genome sequencing, identifying underlying genetic conditions for babies and children in intensive care. As a result, three quarters of those young patients received changes to their care. The NHS genomic service is working to embed genomics in routine healthcare. Later this year, the national genomic healthcare strategy will set out the ambitious programme for the next 10 years.
Patients who need a genomic test from the national genomic test directory will be referred to the NHS genomic medicine service. However, I recognise that some patients may contact their GP for advice after taking a commercial test. NHS England is working with partners to ensure that GPs receive training to help them respond correctly. Public Health England and the National Screening Committee have also published guidance on private screening.
Health service professionals in the Black Country are concerned that the removal of local funding for in-house molecular testing for cancer in April in favour of regional genomic laboratory hubs could in certain circumstances cause delays in diagnosis and be more expensive. Will the Minister look at this again in order to refine the processes to address these particular issues?
I commend the Minister for the progressive approach the Government have taken to genomics, but for a large number of genetic diseases the symptoms do not manifest themselves until after developmental damage has been done. Will the Government consider whether we should extend genomic testing to all neonates—all newborns—at some point in the future?
Surely all this must be put in the context of the Topol review, with so much innovation and not just in genomics? There is so much innovation going on in the health service, but we have to make sure that there are well-managed and efficient hospital trusts running these programmes. Many are not like Huddersfield and are not up to speed, and we have to get hospitals up to speed in using the new technologies.
In January, the Secretary of State announced that genomic testing would be provided in NHS England to healthy subjects for a few hundred pounds. This ill-advised plan, which would have widened health inequalities, seems to have gone quiet, so can the Minister confirm that the Government no longer plan to sell genetic testing and genomic testing in NHS England?