£18m to upgrade genetic laboratories in England

Six areas in England are to receive a share of £18m to upgrade genetic laboratories and help patients get genetic test results quicker.

Genetic testing is currently used to diagnose disorders such as Huntington's and cystic fibrosis as well as to screen for conditions like Down's syndrome.

The laboratories will use the funding to modernise equipment and to develop better ways of working. Patients who urgently need tests will receive their results in just three days.

NHS genetics laboratories in the following areas will benefit from funding:

  • London - £3,468,000 to strengthen individual laboratories and rationalise testing between them.
  • South and East (joint bid) - £3,467,000 to rationalise services across Salisbury, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff to create a regional network of genetics laboratories.
  • West Midlands - £2,341,000 to upgrade equipment to help cope with the increased demand for haematology and oncology tests.
  • East Midlands and South Yorkshire - £1,355,000 to strengthen services in Sheffield, Leicester and Nottingham.
  • North West - £2,603,000 to reconfigure services across the North West
  • Northern Yorkshire (joint bid) - £1,396,000 to boost and rationalise services between Leeds and Newcastle.

The funding is part of a £50m package of investment announced last year to make sure the NHS gets the full benefit of advances in genetics.

Health Minister Lord Warner said genetics would have a "profound impact" on healthcare, helping to predict and prevent ill health.

"As our understanding of genetics develops, we will be able to test patients for common diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and thus benefit much larger numbers of patients.

"The funding announced today will greatly increase the capacity of the NHS to provide access to these new genetic tests and also get results to patients more quickly".

The Genetics White Paper - 'Our Inheritance, Our Future' was published last year.

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