What is a Regional Genetics Service?
Regional Genetics Services hold genetics clinics which offer genetic testing, risk assessments and discussion about genetics health issues for NHS patients. Each regional service covers a large area of the UK and serves their local communities, sometimes holding clinics at a number of local hospitals or health centres. Some are called Regional Genetics Services, Genetics Centres, Genomic Centres, Clinical Genetics or Centres for Genomic Medicine. They all mean a place where patients can see a genetics doctor (a Clinical Geneticist or Specialist Registrar) and/or a Genetic Counsellor for an outpatient appointment.
Where are Regional Genetics Services based?
The NHS have a number of Regional Genetics Services or genetics clinics across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A list can be found here (in June 2019 some details were still missing from this list) https://www.bsgm.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/list-of-genetic-clinics/
What about Genomic Medicine Centres?
When the 100,000 Genomes Project was set up in 2012, 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres were established by NHS England to help deliver the project. Referrals were also made from genetics centres in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Most NHS Genomic Medicine Centres have their own websites. A list and a map can be found here https://www.genomicsengland.co.uk/about-genomics-england/the-100000-genomes-project/genomic-medicine-centres/. Restructuring of current genetics services is expected to take place in the near future under NHS England as they establish an NHS Genomic Medicine Service https://www.england.nhs.uk/genomics/nhs-genomic-med-service/
How can I arrange a genetics appointment?
Patients usually access genetics appointments by a referral from a specialist, often their GP. There are many reasons why people may seek genetics services, but testing is not available in every situation and some referrals are not accepted. Assessments, family history and eligibility criteria all help to decide what test, if any, is possible.
What happens at a genetics clinic?
Many genetics centres have their own details of what to expect at a genetics appointment. Some examples are listed below. What happens will depend on why you were referred. Sometimes a diagnosis can be made based on what symptoms or features someone may have. After a diagnosis is made there can be questions about how it happened and if it could affect anyone else in the family. A family tree may be drawn and health risks to future generations could be discussed. Genetic or genomic testing may be offered, discussed or arranged. Patients may have important questions to discuss and should be given the chance to ask these. If you are waiting for a genetics appointment you may wish to make a list of the questions you would most like to discuss.
https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/medical-information/clinical-specialties/clinical-genetics-information-parents-and-visitors/clinical-genetics-department (THIS LINK HAS A COUPLE OF YOUTUBE VIDEOS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS AT AN APPOINTMENT)
How do I access genetics services outside of the NHS?
A number of private options exist for people wishing to have a genetics appointment or testing not part of the NHS. This may be to avoid or reduce a long waiting time. Others are not eligible for NHS services or wish to fund their own second opinion. Some people wish to access a ‘direct to consumer’ genetic test for their own interest. You are welcome to contact our Genetics Helpline if you wish to discuss your situation or find out about possible options. We do not offer genetic testing or recommend any particular services but can discuss the options we are aware of to help inform your decision making.
Friends are asking about careers in genetics and genomics?
There are a number of career options for people interested in genetics and genomics. These can be in laboratories (clinical scientists), bioinformatics (analysing data) or in face to face healthcare roles (genetic counsellors and doctors).
We are often approached by people interested in training to become genetic counsellors. Here are some links for further information. Please feel free to contact our helpline if you wish to discuss a question about genetic counselling.