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Workforce Competences

To ensure that patients have access to genetic advances now and in the future, healthcare staff may need to be able to:

These steps form part of a patient pathway; to help support the application of genetics in the patient pathway, a large group of healthcare staff drew on their clinical experience to generate a set of skills and knowledge that may be used. These form the UK Workforce Competences for Genetics in Clinical Practice for Non-Genetics Healthcare Staff. Their application aims to improve care for patients with or at risk of genetics conditions. This document contains all nine of the workforce competences that cover the patient pathway. Not all of the competences will be applicable to all roles.

A framework and competences for genetics activities in patient care have been developed by the NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre and Skills for Health working together with a wide range of health professionals.


What is a competence framework?

Competence frameworks describe the activities that cover a patient pathway, practitioner role or specialty area. Individual competences within a framework indicate how the activities are carried out (performance criteria), and the underpinning knowledge, skills and attitudes required.

The 'Genetics in Clinical Practice' competence framework describes a pathway of activities involving genetics knowledge, skills and attitudes which may be carried out by non-genetics healthcare staff. Each competence is designed to address a discrete area of function and responsibility which a person working in a healthcare role may be asked to undertake.


How can the genetics competences be used?

We anticipate that the competences will be incorporated into job descriptions:

Few health professionals will need all the competences; although the framework covers the whole of the pathway for a patient with, or at risk of, a genetic disorder. For any individual health professional only those genetic competences relevant to their agreed professional role should be selected and included in a job description. Some competences will be widely applicable whilst others will be relevant only to a small number of specialist healthcare professionals.

They give an overview - specific details (e.g. which genetic conditions, which pathway) need to be determined locally appropriate to the role being undertaken in a particular patient pathway.

Agreed competences can be used by individuals to develop their own knowledge, skills and performance, by education and training providers to identify learning needs, define learning outcomes and specify qualifications, and by organisations to set standards and improve the quality of services they offer. The competences for genetics in clinical practice were accepted as National Occupational Standards in July 2007.


How was the genetics competence framework developed?

The activities were identified by different healthcare staff groups considering where 'genetics' impacts on their role and the patient care they provide. Staff from Regional Genetics Centres were an integral part of the process in developing the competences.


A PDF document

A Competence Framework for General Practitioners with a Special Interest in Genetics

Use this report to understand the competences appropriate for GPs with a Special Interest in Genetics. This is the final report published in November 2007.