A few people have sent me campaign emails about heart disease and genetic testing.
 
The UK and the NHS are world leaders in genomic research, and the Government is committed to ensuring people across the country have access to the most advanced treatments.
 
I am encouraged that NHS genetic testing is already available for many inherited cardiac conditions, and the Department of Health is working to increase the accessibility of these services across the country. Full details of availability are published by the UK Genetic Testing Network (UKGTN) at: www.ukgtn.nhs.uk.
 
People may be aware of the '100,000 Genomes Project', launched in 2014, which aims to sequence 100,000 whole human genomes from 70,000 patients by the end of 2018. This £300 million project seeks to transform how rare diseases and cancers are diagnosed and treated and will establish a world-leading genomics service within the NHS.
 
The project aims to increase consent rates amongst patients and to train health professionals across the sector in the application of genomics for improved treatment and patient care. The UK will become the first country in the world to sequence human genomes on this scale and this will stimulate further development and investment in genetic medicine moving forward.
 
The Government's commitment to genomics was further underlined through an additional £250 million investment pledge by the Department of Health in January 2016. This will ensure the continued role of Genomics England in delivering the service beyond the life of the project and ensure that NHS patients continue to benefit from the prospect of better diagnosis and better treatments.
 
Alongside this, NHS England and Public Health England are working to raise the profile of inherited heart conditions such as familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) and break down the barriers to genetic testing. An FH steering group has been launched which has established FH specialist nurses in many areas of England. This aims to increase FH cascade testing so that more affected families can be identified. In addition, a cholesterol test is included as part of an NHS Health Check which alerts practitioners to consider the possibility of FH in line with guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.


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