Independent advice on private healthcare
If you would like to know about DNA paternity testing, including the reasons for paternity testing and the types of DNA paternity tests that are available, the information in our DNA testing guide will interest you.
There are many different companies providing paternity tests particularly on the internet, many of which offer a variety of tests, prices and sampling methods.
Many DNA paternity testing services are operated from overseas and indeed samples are sent abroad for analysis from organisations acting as brokers or middlemen in the UK. There may also be variation in the accuracy of DNA test results depending on how the paternity test is done and what type of testing methods are used, and how many individual DNA tests are used by the testing laboratory to analyse each paternity case.
The Ministry of Justice maintains a list of companies which are accredited to carry out DNA paternity tests directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. Currently, to be accepted on the list, paternity testing services have to attain ISO 17025 accreditation and must adhere to the voluntary Code of Practice.
ISO17025 is a global standard for the technical competence of calibration and testing laboratories. In addition to establishing quality system, documentation and personnel requirements, it directs calibration labs to:
Reporting the uncertainty qualifies the accuracy of the measurement and aids understanding when DNA test results from different labs are compared.
The Code of Practice
The “voluntary” Code of Practice was drawn up by the Department of Health following discussions with representatives from commissioners of genetic paternity testing services, providers of such services, patient groups, clinicians, academics and scientists. (The code is currently being revised to produce a “Best Practice guide”.)
However all the Ministry of Justice requires is a letter stipulating that your organisation will adhere to the code - unfortunately they have neither the time, nor the power to police and enforce the market.
The decision to have a DNA / paternity test is one faced by thousands of people every year, often in complicated emotional circumstances. It is therefore essential that you choose the right company to carry out your DNA test. The quality, accuracy and conclusiveness of the DNA testing and the service you receive should be important considerations.