Drivers for change

The National Plan for the NHS

This document, which was published in 2000 by the Department of Health, cited the importance of advances in genetics and of the social, ethical and legal implications of developments in genetics. In particular, it cited the importance of disease prevention, and reported the UK Government's commitment to a longterm study of the effect of the relationship between genetics and the environment on cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Addressing Genetics, Delivering Health and the National Genetics Education Centre

Addressing Genetics, Delivering Health5 was a major strategic review for the Department of Health and the Wellcome Trust, concentrating on the educational need for multidisciplinary work across the NHS. It was produced by the Public Health Genetics Unit in Cambridge.

The paper recognised that genetics was important across the disciplines, and it called for a formal programme of genetics education, including a review of the genetics curricula and competency framework across disciplines.

To overcome some of the barriers perceived by health professionals, including the lack of teachers and resources in genetics, the review recommended the setting up of the National Genetics Education Centre (NGEC), which is now based in Birmingham. It has a wide remit in its role to facilitate the development and dissemination of resources across the many professional disciplines within the NHS. The National Genetic Education Centre has been involved in defining the core genetic competencies for the non-specialist, and has been working with the General Practitioners with a Special Interest (GPwSI) programme to define the necessary competencies required of a GP who wants to be a leader in primary care genetics.

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