Personalised medicine and improved patient outcomes

We all want the NHS to be able to do as much for us as possible.

One way in which Parliament seeks to ensure this is through All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). In addition to exploring particular areas of policy and offering recommendations for the Government, APPGs are just one example of Parliament’s work which is far more collaborative and consensual than the clips of Prime Minister’s Questions played on the news each Wednesday.

As Chair of the APPG on Blood Cancer I recently launched our inquiry into genomic medicine in blood cancer.

Genomic medicine will provide benefits to both the biomedical research community and individual patients; potentially offering more accurate diagnosis and therefore appropriate treatments and access to clinical trials.

The NHS will be the first healthcare system in the world to systematically introduce Whole Genome Sequencing into routine healthcare.

NHS England’s Genomic Medicine Service is expected to go live in April of this year. When fully rolled-out, the service will provide genetic and genomic testing to patients in England, with certain patient groups such as children with cancers and adults with acute leukaemias and sarcomas to be offered Whole Genome Sequencing as part of their routine care.

One key feature of our inquiry will be to ensure blood cancer patients can make the most of the benefits afforded by this technology. For this to happen the new Genomic Medicine Service needs to be fit for purpose and integrated seamlessly into the wider NHS.

The Government’s Medicines & Medical Devices Bill means hospitals can use patient tissue and DNA samples to tailor treatment to individual patients. This represents a move towards personalised medicine.

The potential is vast. The time it takes to be diagnosed with blood cancer is a real issue; and I recently reiterated my support for Bloodwise’s End the Delays campaign.

People with blood cancer are more likely to visit their GP multiple times before being diagnosed than for any other cancer. If we can reduce the number of GP visits needed and ensure earlier diagnosis we will improve patient outcomes.

Henry Smith MP