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Serious deficiency in Irish genetics resourcing — expert

There is a “huge deficiency” in resourcing of Irish clinical genetics, despite the area becoming increasingly important to oncology care, a consultant medical geneticist has warned.

Prof David Gallagher, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Consultant Medical Geneticist, St James’s Hospital, Dublin, told the Medical Independent “we are [a] poorly resourced country” in respect of genetics.

“I came back from New York nine years ago and have been developing a service since then,” he said. “There is also a service in Crumlin Hospital. But even with the progress we have made over the last five years in particular, we are still hugely under-resourced.

“Part of the problem is that, it [genetics] is becoming such an important part of cancer care, that soon almost every patient diagnosed with cancer and many of those who have not been diagnosed and who are just related to people who have been diagnosed, will require genetic assessment.

“And we are just inadequately resourced to deal with where genetics was 20 years ago, not to mention where it is now.”

Prof Gallagher added that “we don’t even have a genetics laboratory in the country. So we have to send all our tests abroad at considerable expense to get genetic testing done. So even something as basic as that we just don’t have.”

He further expressed concern with the slow rate of implementation of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.  It is a “very good document” but depends on funding, he said.

Prof Gallagher is one of the organisers of the annual Gathering Around Cancer conference, taking place on 7- 8 November in Croke Park, Dublin.

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