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Department considers evidence heard by Public Accounts Committee

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The Department of Health and Social Care has listened in detail to the Public Accounts Committee’s recent session with Dr Glover around genomic sequencing. 

The department continues to express interest in Dr Glover’s expertise in biomedical science and ability to translate a complex field into a simple message for all to understand. The department values all technical and peer-reviewed evidence in supporting the Council of Ministers’ pandemic response plans. 

Dr Glover was invited to become part of the DHSC’s governance structures last year by its medical director and relevant clinical director, but Dr Glover’s decision to reset her relationship with the department meant this was not possible. Biomedical scientist support has nevertheless continued to be provided to DHSC professionals on Island, via the UK national network and directly through an extensive laboratory team in Liverpool.  

The DHSC has on a number of occasions expressed its thanks to Dr Glover for her work and support in the set-up of COVID testing during 2020. Her contribution alongside many others in the Isle of Man is evidence that the management of the pandemic has been, and continues to be, a team effort from across the community. The department will always be grateful and immensely proud of all those who have contributed many hours over a long period of time. 

With reference to the wider comments about Dr Glover’s and Taxa Genomics’ relationship with the DHSC, the department is in the process of sharing all the relevant documentation with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and looks forward to attending a session in the coming months in order to represent its professional position in these matters. 

In this respect, the DHSC will correct the position presented regarding intellectual property rights and confirm that alternative arrangements were already in place as part of its provider resilience planning. This approach is consistent with the principles around single supplier relationships for critical clinical services, and is also a consideration in relation to the wider requirements for longer-term genomic sequencing which were under consideration.   

Following instruction of advocates by Taxa and Dr Glover to open correspondence with the department, a detailed review of the position was undertaken. The pathology labatory in DHSC confirmed that any previous documentation/codes were no longer in use at that agreed point as they were no longer needed; a detailed timeline of this will be provided to the PAC. 

The Department was disappointed that Taxa Genomics, particularly as an on Island provider, did not feel able to respond to the required DHSC governance arrangements. Taxa then took the decision to withdraw all potential services including failing to supply reagent consumables in breach of an agreement it had entered into with the department. 

Minister David Ashford said:

‘I would like to express ongoing thanks to our small pathology lab team at Noble’s Hospital who continue to provide a comprehensive service which would be the envy of many hospital teams across other health care systems. The team’s continued resilience in supporting our extensive COVID testing programme has been phenomenal, recently celebrating a major milestone in undertaking over 24,000 tests in the first three months of 2021 - compared to around 21,000 tests in totality in 2020. They have my full support in continuing to provide a plethora of on-island services for our residents. Their continued investment in further expertise is a credit to our health and care system.’