WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Strategy for UK Life Sciences – next steps
Monday 10 December 2012
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt):
Today, the Prime Minister has announced the Government’s intention to pump-prime the sequencing of 100,000 whole genomes over the next 3-5 years. This work will initially focus on cancer and rare diseases which, together with infectious diseases, are already showing patient benefit.
The potential of the information contained in the human genome is recognised as one of the most important healthcare opportunities of modern times. This initiative will include funding for staff training and developing bioinformatics support to prepare the NHS to make the paradigm shift from sequencing individual genes to scanning whole genomes. It will change fundamentally the way we view disease, monitor its progression and use this knowledge to transform healthcare. It will help patients get targeted treatments for them as individuals. The NHS Commissioning Board will lead on a delivery framework and service design with an aim to have contracts in place by April 2014 at the latest.
The Department of Health is working closely with colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the NHS Commissioning Board to ensure that clinicians, patients, researchers and the wider public are involved in promoting the adoption of genomic technology to provide better healthcare and help research and the wider economy. The Government will also put in place careful safeguards for the storage each patient’s genome sequence and the use of anonymised data for research, which will be overseen by the Chief Medical Officer for England.
This new initiative will form part of the next phase of the
Strategy for UK Life Sciences, launched 12 months ago by the Prime Minister, which declared our commitment to a sector we see as vital to the UK’s long term economic prospects. This work will also complement Innovation Health and Wealth, Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS, published by Sir David Nicholson, the NHS Chief Executive, which is updated today The UK is well placed to play a world-leading role in this next phase of the biomedical revolution, thanks to its first class science and research base and the unique position of the NHS as a single healthcare provider. We remain at the forefront of genetic science innovation, translating this into real benefits for NHS patients. The Government and the NHS Commissioning Board will ensure that NHS patients benefit and that there is a clear strategy to take advantage of opportunities in genomics.
In addition, my Rt hon Friend the Minister of State, Department of Business and Skills, (Mr Willetts) is today announcing that part of the science capital