Clinical Genetic Services in the United Kingdom


The aim of clinical genetic services is to help individuals or families with, or at risk of, conditions which may have a genetic basis to live and reproduce as normally as possible. In the UK, such specialist genetic services have, in general, developed as a network of regional genetics centres of which there are 23 (17 in England, 1 in Wales, 1 in Northern Ireland and 4 in Scotland) that serve populations of between 650 000 and 5 million people. Clinical geneticists work within these centres in multidisciplinary teams together with genetic counsellors and laboratory scientists. The clinical services are delivered through a network of central and district clinics and, in some cases, joint clinics with other specialists. Each centre also has a vital role in education as the relevance of genetics and genomics to all branches of medicine increases. Each centre also plays a key role in research, sometime initiating studies and sometimes recruiting their patients to multi‐centre surveillance studies and clinical trials.

Key Concepts:

  • Clinical genetic services are organised on a regional geographical basis.

  • Each centre has multidisciplinary working.

  • There are regional differences in practice and some differences between the four UK countries.

  • Mainstreaming genetic knowledge and skills to other clinicians is an important and increasing activity.

  • National standards have been developed and are developing to provide a high quality service.

Keywords: services; counselling; workload; outcome; registers


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The Clinical Genetics Society (August 2005, updated October 2012) Clinical Standards for a Genetics Unit. Clinical Governance Sub‐committee.

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Fryer, Alan(Sep 2014) Clinical Genetic Services in the United Kingdom. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005622.pub3]