Genome sequencing for sale on the NHSBMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l789 (Published 25 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l789
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The emergence of Genetics Nurses and Counsellors as a specific practitioner group with its own registration and professional body has come about through recognition of the complicated nature of living with genetic disorders and the implications this has for those affected and their families, including their reproductive decisions. The NHS acknowledges the importance of the profession and has established training programs to expand the number of practitioners: there are also extensive efforts to enhance the knowledge of all health professionals given the explosion of information and knowledge in the field. The approach to practice taken by Genetics Nurses and Counsellors and their medical colleagues includes careful consideration of the impact of decisions about seeking or not seeking genetic information, interpreting the results, living with any new information which arises and living with the consequences of seeking or not seeking the information. Practice guidelines and protocols have been developed and are kept under review to ensure patients are best served by processes being in place to promote well-informed decisions and to be properly supported in assimilating the outcome.
The development in the NHS of professional practice and services for genetic counselling stands in opposition to a view that the UK population is best served by treating genetic knowledge as a simple commodity. If the Health Secretary is to pursue this policy perhaps he should at least assign any revenue raised to develop services for the unintended adverse consequences of his policy.
Competing interests: I provide supervision groups for Genetics Nurses and Counsellors