Valuing the enormous potential that pharmacogenomics has to enable more accurate prescribing for better treatment and less waste, a new NHSE/I Genomics Pharmacy Advisory Group has been established with Northern Ireland represented by Fionnuala Greene, Regional Lead Cancer Services Pharmacist, Belfast City Hospital. Fionnuala assisted in the development of the Forum’s response to the draft Cancer Strategy for NI 2021-31, where the importance of genomics was highlighted.  

Genomics in pharmacy practice survey

The Advisory Group has developed a survey with the aim to develop a baseline of pharmacy staffs’ knowledge and current practice in terms of genomics, and which will also be used to guide training and education plans to improve the baseline over the coming months and years. The survey is for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants, support workers and is divided into three sections:

  1. About you: basic demographics and training background
  2. Education and training
  3. Your current genomics practice (if any) and the future

Regardless of whether you are involved in genomics medicine currently, the Advisory Group is encouraging pharmacists+ to complete the questionnaire. The Group is particularly interested in experiences and opinions around current practice (if any) in genomic medicine, or preparedness for this, and preferences for delivery of future training in this field.

Personally identifiable data will not be requested. Responses will be stored on a secure platform, and will only be accessible for the project team. The Advisory Group, however, does anticipate sharing the results of the survey at a future date. The survey should take approximately 15 – 20 minutes to complete and is anonymous.

Complete the survey >


Pharmacogenomics in brief

Pharmacogenomics combines pharmacology – the science of drugs, with genomics – the study of the genome and its functions. Its aim is to use information about a person’s genomic make-up to identify and guide the most effective choice of drug for them, to minimise side effects and find the ideal dosage on an individual basis. Personalised medicine individualises drug therapy in light of genomic, diagnostic and clinical information.

Health Minister Swann announces Genomics Partnership for Northern Ireland

On 18 March 2022, Minister Swann co-published a series of Shared Commitments to progress Genomic healthcare in the UK, alongside Health Ministers in Scotland and Wales and the Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences in England. The Shared Commitments form the second implementation phase of Genome UK – the future of healthcare, published by the UK Government in September 2020, and set out a series of joint, UK-wide, high-level commitments to work together along with delivery partners across the UK, to implement and realise the potential of genomic healthcare for the benefit of all patients, for the period 2022-2025.

DoH plans to establish a Genomics Partnership for Northern Ireland, bringing together delivery partners from across government and the HSC, public health, industry, research and academia, with patient input, working together to deliver an integrated genomics service for the population. This is a key priority within the NI Rare Diseases Action Plan.

It will also support other key strategic priorities such as the NI Cancer Strategy, which includes a commitment to deliver genetic and genomic testing in cancer pathways in line with NICE recommendations, and also in public health, where rapid genomic sequencing of pathogens has proven vital in current and future pandemic preparedness.