Genomics Laboratory Services and COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan

Re: Genomics Laboratory Services and COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan

Dear Service User

I am writing to inform you of our current situation concerning the mobilisation of the South East Genomics Laboratory Hub operating model.

As you are aware the NHS is dealing with unprecedented pressures and the GLH Network is working with NHS England to mobilise services to support the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This will have an impact on the provision of genomic testing and as directed by NHSE we have been working with clinical colleagues to implement measures to safeguard the most critical genomics tests.

As a result, roll out of some of the changes to deliver the South East GLH operating model have been postponed. Therefore, from 1st April you will not experience any changes to the way you order tests and your test provider and funding arrangement will not change unless new arrangements have already been finalised.

To ensure we continue to provide the most urgent genomics tests our business continuity plan is as follows:

  • Prioritisation of services has been agreed across the GLH Network with the support of NHS England. The list of tests can be found in Annex 1: National Business Continuity Plan (below).
  • Prenatal and cancer testing will be prioritised and we aim to comply with the nationally agreed turnaround times. However, please be aware some delays may be experienced.
  • During this period, please refrain from sending any non-urgent genomic tests. Any tests already sent to the laboratory will be processed but results will likely be delayed.
  • We are continuing to assess our laboratories capacity on a daily basis to identify whether Amber or Red category tests can be delivered.
  • As the number of staff that are required to self-isolate or redeploy increases, we have prepared plans to operate with minimum on-site staff at our laboratories in order to allow continuation of Green category testing.

We are aware that some clinics have implemented remote consultations by teleconferencing and are considering issuing DIY sample collection kits to patients. Please be aware we are unable to accept saliva/buccal samples as an alternative to blood for DNA extraction at this time.

This is a rapidly changing situation and we will continue to provide regular updates through our website. Where more detail is available, our local genomics laboratories will continue to contact you directly to inform you of the interim changes to their services. Mobilisation of the national Genomics Medicine Service and National Genomics Test Directory will resume once the situation has stabilised and we look for to working with you to launch the new services.

We appreciate your understanding and patience during this challenging time. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.

Many thanks and best wishes,

RH signature

Richard Hall
SEGLH Operational Director

Annex 1: National Business Continuity Plan

COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan- Genomics Laboratory Services

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With any Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) test ordered, a Record of Discussion (RoD) form will also need to be submitted. This document is to record the patient’s consent for genomic testing and their choice on taking part in research. Guidance on the patient choice conversation can be found here
This RoD form will be available for clinicians to download from this webpage. Once completed with the patient, it can be send to the lab with the corresponding test order form and sample.
Tests available to order will be listed in the National Genomic Test Directory. A test order form will soon be made available for clinicians on this webpage to download and complete. This form will include the address of the laboratory that the appropriate sample and completed form needs to be sent to.
Until the new Genomic Laboratory Service goes live, please continue to follow existing test order processes.
Later this year, the online test ordering tool for Whole Genome Sequencing will be integrated into the National Genomics Informatics System (NGIS) and clinicians will be able to search or filter to find a clinical indication, confirm eligibility criteria and start the test request process for their patient.