Wide variation in genetic referrals between doctors

Repeated surveys have shown that GPs are more confident than competent when dealing with genetic aspects of illness.

Fifteen per cent of questionnaire respondents in South Derbyshire showed that they were ‘confidently incompetent’.

Dr Nigel Starey, genetics GPSI with Derbyshire Dales and South Derbyshire PCT, said that GPs were well placed to diagnose genetic conditions.

But Dr Nadeem Qureshi, senior lecturer in primary care at Nottingham University, found that while almost a quarter of GPs in Trent claimed confidence in assigning a risk category to patients with a family history of cancer, 89 per cent incorrectly assigned patients to a high or moderate risk category.

A study of 54 referrals in six months from 33 practices found over a third of practices made no genetics referrals. One surgery accounted for 18 per cent.

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