Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the concerns regarding the downgrading of the National Centre for Medical Genetics to a department within Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin 12; the improvements the Health Service Executive proposes to make to the services provided there and nationally for persons with genetic conditions; and the timeframe within which these changes are likely to be implemented.
REPLY (Minister Leo Varadkar):
The service for medical genetics in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin (OLCHC) provides services for patients and families in Ireland affected by, or at risk of, a genetic disorder. It comprises three integrated units: a clinical genetics service; a cytogenetics laboratory and a molecular genetics laboratory.
The service is under the governance of OLCHC, which has recently made a decision to discontinue the separate identification of the service as the National Centre for Medical Genetics, in the interest of clarity on governance arrangements. I am assured that there has been no reduction in the scope of the services provided.
There have been rapid and progressive developments in genetics and genomic medicine over the past five years, and it is well recognised as one area of medicine that will continue to rapidly develop over coming years.
A recently-commissioned review of the genetic services at OLCHC recommended the development of a plan for a National Genetic and Genomic Medicine Network to reflect best international arrangements for the provision of genetic services. This recommendation has been accepted by the HSE and a Steering Group to progress it is currently being established.