Cash boost promise is only for Scotland

The Primary Care Genetics Society (PCGS) launched last week amid concerns that in England the money behind the initiative to bring genetics into every GP practice is drying up.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Executive has pledged an extra £10 million for genetics, with £4 million to be spent by April.

Pilot funding from the DoH for 10 GPSI posts in genetics in England runs out next year with no guarantees that PCTs will pick up the funding.

‘We have to assume that there will be no more central money,’ Dr Alison Hill, genetics policy lead at the DoH and a former GP, told the PCGS.

The PCGS, which Dr Hill said is ‘one of the ways to maintain the enthusiasm and work’ that gave genetics a £50 million windfall in 2003, has a UK membership of 97, including 40 GPs.

In Scotland, agreement ‘in principle’ has been reached for two genetics GPSIs to develop shared care protocols for people with chronic, mostly single-gene disorders.

The GPs will work part time in the genetics department at Aberdeen and Dundee. Their role will be to spread expertise from secondary into primary care.

Collectively, single gene disorders affect more than one in 500 people and patients may be at risk from rare or unexpected complications. But the rarity of the disorders makes it difficult for GPs to be alert to the risks or to know the most appropriate treatment or follow-up.

‘It is more efficient to manage patients with chronic genetic conditions in the community. This demonstration project will standardise care for patients with chronic genetic conditions,’ said Dr Ros Skinner, principal medical officer of Public Health medical division at the Scottish Executive Health Department.

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