An independent audit of one of the innovative workstreams supported by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN), showing impressive benefits to patients and the NHS, has been published.

WMAHSN commissioned GE Finnamore to undertake an independent innovation assurance audit of the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre (WMGMC), with a particular focus on what has been achieved through taking a whole regional patient population approach with the majority of NHS providers and commissioners, academia and industry across the area.

The WM GMC is one of 13 centres across the country that are leading the way in delivering the 100,000 Genomes Project. The initiative involves collecting and decoding 100,000 human genomes – complete sets of people’s genes – that will enable scientists and doctors to understand more about specific conditions. The project will transform diagnosis and treatment for patients with rare diseases and cancers. The WMGMC will deliver up to 13,000 of the total number of genomes, drawing on its unique population through a collaboration of healthcare organisations.

As well as potentially affecting thousands of patients through improved diagnosis, treatment and the prediction and prevention of disease, the report found that the WMGMC is already transforming NHS service delivery.

The report focuses on eight key innovations arising from the work of the WMGMC, which are unique to the West Midlands. These include the development of a partnership with all hospital trusts in the West Midlands, the scale of which is unprecedented and prevents the ‘postcode lottery’ effect; development of the GENIE patient record and sample tracking system; development and adoption of bioinformatics tools to support routine services as well as the 100,000 Genomes Project; and a core partnership with the local Biobank for sample management. In addition, the impact of the three Genomics Ambassadors – funded by WMAHSN – in providing support to clinicians seeking to recruit patients, helping to get sites live and increasing the profile of the 100,000 Genomes Project and genomics in general was highlighted.

Other innovations singled out in the report include the contribution of 4th year medical students on the GMC programme in recruiting appropriate patients and entering information into GENIE, as well as widening participation in specialist genomics education, including the Genomics Masters Access course – developed in the West Midlands and now being adopted across the country as the ‘gold standard‘ for premasters genomics education – and an Advanced Clinical Practitioner qualification in genomics, proposed by the West Midlands GMC and now being developed by the national team.

Finally, the participation of the Patient and Public Engagement Group in the programme was highlighted, which enables learning to be gained from the consent and recruitment process that can be applied into future recruitment activity and demonstrates the WMGMC’s commitment and focus on quality improvement, widening participation and inclusion.

Professor Dion Morton, Director of the WMGMC, said: “We welcome this independent report, which highlights those innovations developed by the WMGMC that are highly innovative and unique to the West Midlands.

“The report covers how the introduction of innovations not only delivers improved healthcare outcomes and other benefits for patients through adoption and diffusion of groundbreaking best practice, but also has the potential to transform clinical practice across the whole of the region.“

You can read the innovation audit report here.

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