The Department of Health has just released the Progress Review of the Genetics White Paper Our Inheritance, Our Future. With an investment programme of £50million, it is encouraging to see the breadth of work that has already been achieved since 2003 when the paper outlined a number of areas of focus including: developing specialist services, research and development (to: increase knowledge, improve technology and develop testing and treatment options), mainstreaming of services with the associated education for non-genetic health professionals and encompassing it all by working to ensure public confidence.
Realising these goals always viewed as long-term and the authors have taken the opportunity during the consultation to look to the future. The consensus does appear to be that “Much has been achieved in a relatively short period, but we are only at the beginning of the process” and I was heartened to see the following comment form the Royal Society (especially in light of my last blog “n=1 follows n=0”!): “Education in genetics has trailed behind the enormous scientific and technical advances in this field and the Royal Society strongly believes that the teaching of genetics to doctors, pharmacists and nurses at undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education levels must be increased as a matter of urgency.” – the time for improving genetics education is now.