Carrier screening in the UK
Genetic carrier screening is a process of systematically offering a carrier test to a whole population (or sub-population) of healthy people, for a gene that is known to be common in that group.
In the UK, screening for Tay-Sachs disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population is NHS-funded. People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a 1 in 25 chance of being a healthy carrier of Tay-Sachs disease. If you have one or more grandparents of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, there are two different ways to have Tay-Sachs carrier screening
If you have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, or a family history of Tay-Sachs disease and/or you have Tay-Sachs carriers in your family, you can ask your GP to refer you to your local NHS Genetics service for a Genetics appointment for Tay Sachs carrier testing alone – this test is free. If you live within the Kennedy Galton Centre catchment area (North West London, Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire) your GP should use this referral form
Barnet General Hospital
The Department of Chemical Pathology offers a screening service on Thursday mornings. The service is by appointment only and participants will need to be referred via their GP to genetics for the Tay Sachs test. Participants will only be able to book to give a blood sample once they have seen a genetic counsellor. Click here for further details
Barnet General Hospital, Department of Chemical Pathology, Wellhouse Lane, Herts EN5 3DJ
Telephone: 020 8216 4313
*COVID-19 UPDATE* Phlebotomy at Barnet Hospital is now closed and plans to reopen once the pandemic is over – we shall update here when the service reopens
Carrier screening for 9 severe genetic disorders that are increased in the Jewish population (including Tay-Sachs) is now available at a bi-monthly clinic in Barnet Hospital, London, run by a dedicated NHS Genetic Counsellor. A Jnetics virtual clinic is also available for people living outside of London . The service, which is part-subsidised by the charity Jnetics, costs £240. People can self-refer and book a screening session here
There is also the option of having private carrier testing for Tay-Sachs disease. Details of these private options can be found in the section other providers for carrier testing.