Clinical genetics

We provide accurate information, counselling support and genetic testing to people affected by, or at risk of, a genetic condition.

Our overall aims are to:

  • Serve the needs of individuals, families and health care professionals by providing the highest standards of care in line with established medical practice
  • Respect the cultural and religious beliefs, comfort and dignity of patients, including privacy and confidentiality
  • Allow full discussion of issues relating to the management of cases and follow guidelines set to protect patients
  • Undertake and use the results of current medical research, in pursuit of the highest standards of clinical care
  • Make sure each member of staff is accountable for their own practice in line with clinical governance and by supporting further study and training.

We also have some specific objectives, which are to:

  • Assist with making an accurate diagnosis of a genetic condition within the family
  • Provide full and accurate information to families about the condition
  • Give information to families about risks of the condition within themselves or their offspring, and the tests available
  • Provide counselling support, particularly during times of crisis or decision-making
  • Refer families to other professionals if appropriate.


The clinical genetics service in Somerset is managed and run by the clinical genetics service at St Michael’s Hospital Bristol.  All new referrals and queries should be directed to the Bristol service.

The team in Bristol undertake the administrative running of the service. The consultants in clinical genetics and the genetic counsellors and genetic nurse counsellors (two of whom are based at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton) are employed by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust. However, clinics continue to be run in Taunton by the resident genetic counsellors and also by the visiting team of genetic consultants and genetic counsellors from Bristol.

What happens once you have been referred to us?

You may be contacted by a genetic counsellor or asked to attend an appointment. The aim of this is to obtain a family history (as far back as your grandparents, if possible), discuss any concerns you may have, and give information about the condition.

If appropriate, we may then make an appointment for you to see the medical consultant or a genetic counsellor in clinical genetics at a clinic. These are held at Musgrove Park Hospital, South Petherton Hospital or in Bristol. In many cases, you will see a genetic counsellor rather than a consultant.

We will arrange further counsellor clinic appointments as needed. In some cases, a second medical consultant clinic appointment may be needed.

You will usually receive a written summary letter of any information given. A copy of the letter is usually also sent to the person who referred you and the GP.