NHS to get £50m for genetic science

A £50 million plan for the NHS to exploit future advances in genetic science has been unveiled by the Government.

Health Secretary John Reid presented a new White Paper on the potential use of genetics by the NHS to Parliament.

He set out plans to invest £50 million over three years to increase the capacity of genetic laboratories and to find ways to incorporate new advances into everyday health care.

Mr Reid said the Human Genetics Commission would be asked to consider the idea of screening babies at birth and storing their genetic profile for future use.

The Government also plans to introduce new laws to make it an offence to test a person's DNA, without their consent.

And it will ask experts to consider whether people could be unfairly discriminated against because of their genetic make-up and how to tackle this problem.

Mr Reid said he wanted the NHS to lead the world in taking advantage of genetic science.

In the future, he said, the NHS would be able to predict and prevent ill health based on someone's genes.

Genetic science would lead to better use of existing drugs and the development of new therapies, he said.

In a foreword to the White Paper, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was "absolutely determined that the National Health Service should be able to respond to these advances so the benefits of genetics and the more personalised and improved healthcare it will bring are available to all."

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