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Understanding Genomics – new resources for health visitors

29th October 2021

In support of the launch of the new GGP eXtra on understanding genomics, we share a Voices blog from Sally Shillaker, Professional Development Officer – Good Practice Points & Parent Tips, iHV.

woman's head and shoulders

Sally Shillaker, Professional Development Officer – Good Practice Points & Parent Tips, iHV

Professor Dame Sally Davies wrote: ‘Genomics is not tomorrow.  It’s here today.  I believe genomic services should be available to more patients, whilst being a cost effective service in the NHS. This is exciting science with the potential for fantastic improvements in prevention, health protection, and patient outcomes’. (pg1)

Two years ago at the Nursing and Midwifery Round Table on Genomics, a discussion occurred between members of the iHV and the Genomics Education Programme (GEP) about the value in equipping health visitors in genomics. Health visitors are often the first professional parents turn to when they have concerns about their child, and often the first professional to observe areas of concern in a child. Health visitors have a key role in genomics and this role is likely to increase. Work, for example, has been undertaken recently to ask the public about their views on whole genome sequencing in newborn screening. For more information about this, please see: [Accessed 14/10/2021].

Since the Round Table, we have journeyed with GEP to develop resources. The aim of these resources is to develop health visitors’ knowledge and understanding of genomics, to recognise the important role that health visitors play in observing potential areas of concern in children, and to consider aspects of support that children and their families may need in this area.

The process of developing these resources has been lengthy with a number of stages. We hope the end product will provide a helpful resource for all health visitors. It has involved the knowledge of a Genetic Counsellor and her clinical team to write the resources, the expertise of the GEP team in producing educational resources for healthcare professionals, the wisdom of three peer reviewers, and feedback from a sample of 50 health visitors who read them. We are really grateful to all who have helped shape them.

Building on the iHV model of  Good Practice Points (GPPs), we have developed a new format for these resources, Genomics GPP eXtra.

  • Click on the image below to go the new resource GPP eXtra on Understanding Genomics.
  • These resources have been produced in partnership with Genomics Education Programme and frontline practitioners, and are open access to all HVs.

We would love feedback from you about this new way of presenting the material and if you have comments, please email [email protected]

Genomics webinars

A very clear message from the HV participants in the review process was that the GPP resources were not enough to embed genomics in practice, and that more would be needed to be done to support individual health visitors and also those working at strategic levels.

To support further learning we are, therefore, offering three webinars on different aspects of genomics that our sample felt were important – these are:

  • Webinar 1 – 16 Dec 2021 14:00-15:30 Book here
    • What does genomics mean for health visitors? Consideration of our role with a tailored case study
  • Webinar 2 – 27 Jan 2022 14:00-15:30Book here
    • What does genomics mean for families? Consideration of our role with families
  • Webinar 3 – 24 Feb 2022 14:00-15:30 – Book here
    • How can we develop our knowledge of genomics? Consideration of our role in observing red flags in genomics


Sally Shillaker, Professional Development Officer – Good Practice Points & Parent Tips, iHV

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