From Genetic Counselling, Ethics, Nursing, Society

The genetic counsellor role in the United Kingdom

Anna and Chris co authored this piece about the role of the Genetic Counsellor on behalf of the Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors (AGNC) for the European Journal of Human Genetics

The genetic counsellor role in the United Kingdom


1st November 2022


Genetic counsellors are an internationally recognised group of highly skilled healthcare professionals with training and expertise in genomic medicine and counselling skills. The United Kingdom (UK) is a leader in developing the profession and has established the gold standard for genetic counselling emulated across Europe and elsewhere around the world. The delivery of genetic counselling in a clinical setting is underpinned by evidence, genetic counselling theory, uses established, validated outcome measures to evaluate success and is highly valued by patients. The number of genetic counsellors globally is approximately 7000, practicing in at least 28 countries. In the UK, there are approximately 300 genetic counsellors, the vast majority practicing clinically in the publicly funded National Health Service.

The delivery of genomic testing had, until relatively recently, been the domain of clinical genetics services; however, such testing has now become ‘mainstream’, in that clinicians working across any discipline of healthcare can order certain genomic tests relevant to their patient. Such mainstream delivery of genomic medicine provides infinite opportunities for the profession of genetic counselling to support, mentor, train and offer clinical supervision to non-genetics colleagues who are utilising genomic technologies.

Related Link:


Middleton A, Taverner N, Moreton N... Patch C et al (2022) The genetic counsellor role in the United Kingdom. European Journal of Human Genetics. Volume 31, pp 13–15

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