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Genomics strategy to be published by end of year

By Reporter - 12th May 2022

A strategy and implementation plan for genomics in Ireland “will be developed and published before the end of 2022”, the HSE said today.

The inaugural meeting of the HSE National Genetic and Genomic Steering Group has taken place with the Executive describing it as the “first step toward developing” the strategy.

“Genomic medicine is revolutionising healthcare and the precision treatments emerging can deliver huge benefits for patients by offering them the very best predictive, preventive, and personalised care,” said Dr Colm Henry, HSE Chief Clinical Officer.

“Advances in genomics are being translated into more efficient and cost-effective care for some of the world’s most prevalent conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“We have known for some time that our services in Ireland need urgent investment and an expert-informed strategy, to ensure this service is developed according to best-practice.”

According to the HSE an expert group have begun work within the HSE, chaired by Dr Mark Bale, former Genomics Advisor to the UK Department of Health, supported by the HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer. The group includes representatives from a range of clinical specialties in Ireland, academic and patient representatives and international experts in the area of genetics and genomics.

According to the Executive this group will develop an agreed strategy and implementation plan for genomics in Ireland. The strategy will be developed and published before the end of 2022.

“A number of previous reviews have shown that there is a large and increasing disparity between genomic medicine services offered in Ireland and internationally, and medical genetics in Ireland is under-resourced for both clinical and laboratory services,” said Dr Henry.

“As a result, patients here do not currently have timely access to genetic opinions or to genetic testing, resulting in delays in diagnosis, treatments, and interventions. This new strategy will allow our health service to tackle these shortcomings and realise the benefit of genomic medicine for patients in Ireland.”

Last month this newspaper reported that the HSE has failed to appoint a national genetics and genomics lead after two “extensive international” search campaigns.“Pending the future appointment of a national lead, a priority for the HSE is to develop a single national strategy and implementation plan for genetics and genomics,” the HSE told this newspaper.

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