All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal, cross-party interest groups of MPs and Peers interested in a particular issue. APPGs do not have any power to make laws and are not funded by Parliament. There is a great number of APPGs, covering many and diverse fields such as health, education, transport, defence, finance, the media and sports.
The APPG on Rare, Genetic and Undiagnosed Conditions held its inaugural meeting in February 2016. The aims of the group, agreed by members, were to increase awareness of rare, genetic and undiagnosed conditions in parliament and help ensure that patients and families affected by these conditions have access to appropriate care and support.
The APPG provided a useful forum for parliamentarians to meet patients and families, who are often vital to converting complicated and abstract debates to the everyday reality of people’s lives. It also provided the opportunities for MPs to learn about the many similar issues facing patients and their families. The APPG helped to give patients affected by rare, genetic and undiagnosed conditions a voice in parliament.
Prior to the dissolution of Parliament on 3 May, there were over 40 members from across the House of Commons and House of Lords who were members of the APPG. In February 2017, the APPG held its Annual General Meeting and re-elected Ben Howlett MP as Chair, and Cheryl Gillan MP, Lord Turnberg, Baroness Neville-Jones and Lord Patel as Vice-Chairs.
The UK Strategy for Rare Diseases was published in November 2013 and sets out 51 commitments that, if implemented, will provide those living with rare conditions with the highest possible quality of evidence-based care and treatment, regardless of where they live in the UK. The four countries of the UK have until 2020 to implement the 51 commitments outlined in the Strategy. In order to help put these into action, each country agreed to develop its own implementation plan by February 2014. The departments of health in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all published country specific plans that reflect their respective health service structures and priorities. The Department of Health in England has not developed or coordinated a plan.
In October 2016, the APPG launched an inquiry into the implementation of the Strategy in England. On Rare Disease Day 2017, it published Leaving No One Behind: Why England needs an implementation plan for the UK Strategy for Rare Diseases.
As part of its inquiry into the implementation of the Strategy in England, in November 2016, the APPG hosted a series of hearings with patient representatives, the Department of Health and its arm's length bodies:
On 11 October 2016, the APPG held a hearing on access to medicines. This was an opportunity to hear from rare disease patients, patient representatives, clinicians and industry experts to understand the issues they face in accessing medicines for patients affect by rare conditions within the current system in England.
In May 2016, the APPG launched its first report exploring the experience of families who have received a diagnosis via genome sequencing. This was a timely report given that genome sequencing is becoming quicker and cheaper with every passing week; receiving a diagnosis through sequencing is now a reality for families. The report was launched at an event in parliament, and the then minister in charge of rare diseases, George Freeman MP, received the report.
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This is not an official website of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in these webpages are those of the group.