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Hancock says UK genome service is now ‘rolling out’

Health secretary also announces a £240m social care boost

Hancock

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that the 100,000 genomes project will be expanded to one million within five years – and could go as high as five million.

In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham yesterday, Hancock said the project had met its goal of helping to create a new genomic medicine service for the NHS, which “from today…will roll out access to genomic testing” for everyone on the NHS.

The 100,000 genomes project is the world’s largest depository of whole genomes with associated clinical data, and is already being used to diagnose and personalise treatment for people with rare diseases and cancers. Upping the number of samples will extend the range of diseases that it will cover. At the moment genomes are sequenced by the NHS and medical research project UK Biobank.

“We’ll have tailor made treatments and tailor made drugs that are the best fit for a patient not a best guess,” he told delegates. “We’re leading the world, and I’m incredibly excited about this technology because of its potential to change lives for the better.”

The news was welcomed by Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharma Industry (ABPI), who said: “The health secretary’s focus on earlier diagnosis and more personalised medicines for cancer and rare diseases is great news for patients and their families.”

“Unlocking the secrets of the genome and increasing genomic testing will help us create a new generation of exciting new treatments and cures,” he added. “The pharmaceutical industry looks forward to working with the government and the NHS on these plans, including helping to develop the skills and expertise needed to ensure that the UK can become a world leader in genomic medicine.”

Social care pledge

Meanwhile, Hancock also pledged an extra £240m to pay for social care packages this winter to support the NHS – just after the government came under flack for the impact its Brexit immigration proposals will have on the social care sector by curbing low-skilled migrant workers.

“We’ll use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care, back home…so we can free up those vital hospital beds.”

Te plans have been dismissed as a “sticking plaster” but the Patients Association, however. The organisation’s CEO Rachel Power said that with social care in long-term crisis any additional funding is welcome but “yet another short-term top-up for social care shows how bad things have got, and how urgently we need a sustainable long-term solution to the care crisis.”

Hancock also said that the era of “blindly” closing community hospitals and moving care into fewer, larger units is over, and more services should be provided in the community setting.

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd October 2018

From: Healthcare

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