UK trains doctors to become genetic experts

August 9, 2004

Brussels, 06 Aug 2004

As part of a 50 million GBP (75 million euro) package of investment launched last year to ensure the NHS [National Health Service] gets the full benefit of advances in genetics, the UK's Health Minister, Lord Warner, has announced on a new training scheme in genetics.

The scheme, called 'General practitioner with special clinical interest in genetics', (GPwSI) will aim to guarantee that genetic knowledge and treatments are easily available to patients.

General practitioners (GPs) will be invited to apply for funding to become the first GpwSI and thus extend their understanding of genetics.

'Increasingly genetics plays an important role in diagnosing and treating common killers such as heart disease and cancer. Training GPs to develop expertise in genetics will mean that the NHS is more responsive to patients' needs and that patients with concerns about genetic disease can access the best advice and information at their local GP's surgery,' explained Lord Warner

The new training scheme would enable GPs to deliver screening programmes for Down's Syndrome and sickle cell disease, diagnose and care for patients with a family history of common diseases such as breast cancer, and manage chronic disease better.

'Primary care genetics is currently a small but growing special interest area, where general practitioners, using their generalist skills, have developed expertise to improve the response by primary care teams towards patients and their families with genetic diseases or those who believe themselves to be at risk,' states the UK's Department of Health in its framework document.

'The impact GPs can make in this area is wide ranging, from taking and recording family histories, providing support to families with Mendelian (single gene) disorders, promoting good practice in specific disease conditions such as sickle cell and cystic fibrosis, to providing expertise in pre-conception counselling and in antenatal care etc. In developing the capacity and capability for providing genetic-based health care in primary care, one way forward is to build on routine procedures and core skills already in existence in the general practice,' it adds.

The GPs chosen for the training scheme will be expected to help increase awareness of genetics with fellow doctors and primary care staff. To read the full framework document 'General practitioner with special clinical interest in genetics', please visit: 33/04086833.pdf

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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