Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary Memorandum submitted by the Genetic Testing and Insurance Committee (GAIC)

Responses to Questions from the Clerk of the Committee

1.   What resources does GAIC currently have at its disposal in terms of finance, staff and facilities?

  The Committee is served by a Secretariat based in the Department of Health, supported by contributions from devolved administrations.

  GAIC's total budget for 2000-01 is £84,349 of which £39,740 is devoted to servicing the Committee (members' expenses, catering), printing, reviewers' fees and other sundry services.

  The Secretariat is provided from within the Genetic Science Policy Unit. The staff budget allocated to GAIC is approximately £44,600 which corresponds to:

    —  0.4 x 1 IP4 (Grade 7 equivalent)

    —  0.7 x IP3 (SEO equivalent)

    —  0.25 of an IP2

    —  0.25 of an IP1 (AO equivalent)

2.   Do you feel that these resources are sufficient to effectively carry out the role assigned to you by government? If they are not, what further resources would your require?

  The resources allocated to GAIC have proved to so far to be sufficient to allow the Committee to function effectively.

  To date, GAIC has completed its review of the use of tests for Huntington's Disease in life insurance risk assessment. The Committee is expected to consider further Huntington's Disease application for other forms of insurance as well as applications from insurers for approval of tests covering two further conditions, (Hereditary Breast/Ovarian Cancer & Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease) by the end of 2001. It is part of GAIC's terms of reference to report to Health, Treasury and Department of Trade and Industry Ministers, not only on proposals received by GAIC from insurance providers but also the subsequent level of compliance by the industry with the recommendations of GAIC. In fulfilling this remit, should the work-load of the GAIC increase significantly, it is not clear whether current resources (in terms of support staff and funding) would be adequate to meet requirements. There may also be merit in extending the current membership of the committee but this would again be difficult with the currently available resources.

  There have been to date problems procuring independent expert actuarial review for applications to GAIC. These are currently being provided by actuaries nominated by the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries. We are, however, aware that should the individuals concerned ask for their normal rate for the task this would greatly exceed the fee levels normally paid for committee members and clinical reviewers (£134 per day) and would not be achievable within GAIC's existing budget.

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