Genetic Haemochromatosis

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:54 pm on 3rd July 2019.

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Photo of Liz McInnes Liz McInnes Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 4:54 pm, 3rd July 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that point, but I issue a caveat about blanket screening: it has to be proven to be clinically effective and it must not throw up false positives and false negatives. The tests are fairly specific for haemochromatosis, but they will have to go through an evaluation process, as I am sure the Minister will inform us when she makes her closing remarks.

At this stage, I want to mention the biomedical scientists and clinical scientists working in our NHS pathology labs. Those often unsung heroes of the NHS are the people who will be performing the tests. Indeed, that was my profession before I was elected as the MP for Heywood and Middleton.

In closing, I want to say that it is important to discuss with any patient diagnosed with genetic haemochromatosis the desirability of genetic testing for other members of the family, as there is at least a one in four chance that a sibling will also have haemochromatosis. Family checks frequently lead to the detection of haemochromatosis before organ damage has occurred. That is important.

It is important we are having this debate. Early diagnosis will help save lives, help cut costs for the NHS and reduce unnecessary suffering for so many individuals, such as my constituent Paul, and families around the UK.