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New geneticist roles will reduce patient waiting times — HSE

The appointment of two consultant clinical geneticists along with two further planned senior genetics posts will lead to improvements in waiting times for genetic care, according to the HSE. The Executive has advertised the post of professor of genetics as a joint appointment with Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin to lead on the establishment of the National Genetics and Genomics Medicine Network (NGGMN). A spokesperson for the HSE told the Medical Independent the professor would “bring together all parties within the field of genomic medicine for multidisciplinary working in a national clinical and research centre”.

“The purpose of this post is to provide clinical advice and leadership in relation to the design and development of genetics and genomics in Ireland. More importantly, to drive the implementation of a hub-and-spoke model for genetic services at all levels with the HSE and through the Hospital Groups and specifically to provide support and general leadership in genetics and genomics.”

A national diagnostics lead for genomics medicine is also being established and recruitment is underway, the spokesperson added. Two full-time consultant clinical geneticists at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin will begin work this year after funding was approved in 2019. According to the HSE, the move will help to “improve outpatient waiting times to see a geneticist”.

“Many patients who are on the waiting list may have a primary diagnosis and are being treated by a primary consultant. Patients are triaged by consultants based on clinical priority. CHI at Crumlin currently have a locum consultant undertaking additional clinics to reduce waiting times.”

Only four clinical genetics specialists work in the health service nationally at present, three of whom are over the age of 55. This is against a backdrop of demand for at least 15 consultants. Irish patients are without access to genetic
counselling and are faced with waiting times of between 15 and 18 months for priority cases and over two years for routine referrals.

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