Genetics GPSI needed in every PCO

DoH adviser demands more back up for GPs over predictive tests.

A GPSI in genetics in every primary care organisation (PCO) is needed to help advise GPs on how best to deal with insurance companies, according to the chairman of the DoH's genetics and insurance committee.

Professor David Johns said that there had been occasions when GPs had been giving out too much information to insurance companies.

Current Association of British Insurers' (ABI) guidance states that 'insurers are permitted to seek, with customers' consent, access to family medical history, diagnostic genetic test results and reports from GPs to price the additional risk of any health problems'.

The DoH signed a concordat and memorandum with the ABI that restricts the use of predictive genetic tests by insurers until November 2011.

Consequently, GPs are not required to tell insurers of the results of predictive genetic tests unless it is for insurance of more than £500,000 for life insurance and £300,000 for critical illness.

But Professor Johns said: 'We need to have at least one GPSI in genetics working in each PCO to help advise the other GPs on genetic matters.

'The GPSI can be a contact point to help answer any genetic queries.

'This would be helpful for the patients who need to receive the correct information so that they can complete their insurance forms correctly.'

GPs can be asked a number of questions by insurance companies, depending on the type of policy, said Professor Johns.

For example, when negotiating life policies GPs can be asked if a patient has Huntington's disease, he added.

Dr Imran Rafri, a GPSI in genetics in Surrey and a member of the Primary Care Genetics Society, said: 'GPs definitely need to be careful about what information they are giving out to insurance companies.

'It would be a fantastic idea to have a GPSI in genetics in every PCO,' he said.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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