Key points of the NHS England strategy to develop the pharmacy genomic workforce

Genomic medicine describes the application of genomic information to health care. Combined with other clinical and diagnostic information it can help predict, prevent, diagnose and treat disease. Rapid advances in genomic testing are enabling a transition from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to prescribing to a more tailored approach by using genomics to inform medicines optimisation.

The key role of genomics in patient care was set out in the NHS England 5-year strategy ‘Accelerating Genomic Medicine in the NHS’. One of the four pillars of this strategy focuses on genomic testing to increase the use of precision medicines and reduce adverse drug reactions. The strategy emphasises the pivotal role of pharmacy professionals in achieving these aims and the importance of a genomically trained and competent workforce. More broadly, pharmacy professionals may also be involved in the identification and management of patients with genomically driven conditions, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), in the clinical delivery of gene targeted treatments, such as inclisiran for lipid disorders, and in the governance, preparation or delivery of gene therapies or other Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products. 

The strategy emphasises the importance of a genomically trained and competent workforce

To ensure that pharmacy professionals are prepared to fully harness the advantages of genomics, NHS England have recently published a strategic framework for developing the pharmacy genomics workforce over the next three years. This timeline is aligned with the reformed foundation pharmacist programme due to be launched in 2025/26 and the anticipated review of initial education and training standards for pharmacy technicians. The framework advocates for the routine inclusion of genomics in the provision of education and training for the pharmacy workforce, in preparation for the application of genomic medicine across diverse areas of pharmacy practice, including in prescribing roles.

The framework sets out four strategic aims, aligning with the aims of the NHS England Genomics Education Programme:

  • Integrate awareness of genomics as part of pharmacy practice
  • Build and join networks across the country
  • Identify pharmacy genomics workforce needs
  • Educate and develop the pharmacy workforce

These aims are accompanied by links to educational resources, case examples and suggested measures of success. The NHS England Pharmacy Workforce Group for Genomics will oversee implementation of this strategic framework, will support the development of competency and career frameworks, and will be responsible for the review and implementation of undergraduate and postgraduate curricula.

As genomics is a cross-cutting discipline, it is recognised that successful implementation is dependent upon collaboration within multi-professional networks, with upskilling of all healthcare professionals. The Genomics Education Programme Clinical Pathway Initiative, which entails splitting clinical pathways into components and linking to genomics competencies and educational resources, accessible to all healthcare professionals, aims to provide a consistent approach and reduce duplication of effort across professional groups by utilising a ‘profession-agnostic’ approach to genomics education.

The strategic framework recognises that there will be challenges in the upskilling of the pharmacy workforce, including varying genomics educational requirements across sectors and clinical specialities and the appropriate provision of suitably trained genomics mentors and relatable genomics case studies, to aid education and training. It is also acknowledged that in the fast-paced genomics environment, the roles and responsibilities of the pharmacy workforce are likely to evolve over time.

It is anticipated that the strategic framework will empower the pharmacy workforce in their roles as medicines experts, to fully realise the benefits of genomics in medicines optimisation and wider patient care.

To find out more and get involved in genomics, join our UKCPA Genomics Community, where you can access our online forum and educational opportunities in genomics, plus recordings of webinars and other resources.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the UKCPA or its members. We encourage readers to follow links and references to primary research papers and guidance.

Competing interest statement: 

The author declares: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.


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