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Genomics in Scotland: Building our Future strategy released

By April 23, 2024No Comments

The Scottish Government have released their ‘Genomics in Scotland: Building our Future strategy’, which establishes their¬†commitment to the development of a robust and sustainable national genomic medicine service.

The initial implementation plan will focus on the foundational and preparatory work needed, in collaboration with stakeholders across Scotland, to ensure that investment and partnership working is targeted to benefit those that need it most and delivers maximum value as part of the ongoing recovery and renewal of Scotland’s health services.

The strategy outlines thirteen overarching aims and details the initial actions that efforts will be focused upon over the following 12 months.

We have selected the aims most pertinent to BIVDA members:

  • Develop collaborative multi-disciplinary genomic testing services that include research, innovation, horizon scanning and funding processes. This approach will ensure the timely implementation of new genomic tests and technologies to help improve their understanding of genomic disease and the clinical management of patients.
  • Deliver comprehensive national genomic test directories that enable healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care and treatment for people in Scotland as part of an accredited end-to-end cost-effective clinical service. By working with healthcare professionals they will support the development of national guidance and signposting to support the right test for the right person at the right time.
  • Offer people in Scotland the best available genomic testing to support early decision making and patient care before and during pregnancy, whilst minimising risk to the mother and baby. Testing will be available, where relevant, to couples at risk of having children affected with severe genetic conditions. Urgent genomic testing in neonatal and paediatric care will be available where it will influence patient management.
  • Explore and develop streamlined delivery models for genomic testing in partnership with healthcare professionals and service users. They will implement and expand a variety of technologies including, but not limited to, the analysis of circulating tumour DNA¬†(ctDNA), large panel Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) where relevant within both cancer and rare and inherited condition test directories.
  • Improve clinical management pathways for people in Scotland with cancer and rare and inherited conditions by integrating information about genomic testing and resources and supporting new clinical practice models across Scotland.
  • Develop a robust multi-disciplinary whole-system workforce model in collaboration with key stakeholders and service users that informs the investment, capacity, staffing levels and skills required to meet the needs of current and future genomics services.
  • Ensure that genomics data is within scope for wider work within the National Digital Strategy to facilitate aligning this data with other healthcare data e.g. digital pathology, radiomics.
  • Work with key stakeholders to actively promote genomics in order to increase public awareness and understanding of genomic information and raise awareness of the choices and support available. They will also support the provision of information, resources and training packages that improve access to and use of genomic testing by non-specialist clinical staff.
  • Maximise the use of existing innovation pathways to align genomic research and innovation priorities with horizon scanning and future service requirements and improve opportunities for people to participate in genomic-enabled research and clinical trials. By working with academic, NHS and industrial partners they will use an evidence-based approach to help bridge the translational gap for new innovations.

You can read the implementation strategy in full here.

Ben Kemp