NHS reforms put hepatitis C services and patient care at risk


A report endorsed by the British Liver Trust and the Hepatitis C Trust published this month has highlighted how poor hepatitis C services in the UK are compared to Europe. This highlights concerns about declining treatment rates and the affect NHS reforms could have on hepatitis treatment services.

World Hepatitis Alliance

Research findings for hepatitis C in the UK

Shocking figures from the report show:
  • A 300% increase in hepatitis C deaths associated with end-stage liver disease or liver cancer from 1996 to 2010
  • An estimated 15,840 people developing cirrhosis or liver cancer from hepatitis C in England by 2020, if they do not receive treatment
  • An increase in how many people in the UK have hepatitis C to 370,000 by 2035
  • Associated annual healthcare costs of the virus rising from £83million annually to £115million by 2035
  • 4,200 needing transplants by 2020 if they do not receive treatment - a liver transplant currently costs £50,000 if a donor can even be found

Report's recommendations to improve patient care

To improve hepatitis C services and patient care in the UK, the report suggests:
  • Improving the rates of diagnosis and treatment
  • Helping commissioners and clinicians to reduce the financial burden of the virus on the health service
  • Encouraging localised, innovative approaches to services that improve patient outcomes with effective and early interventions

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, commented that during this time of reform it was important for all involved in healthcare to make hepatitis C a priority. He added: "Through rethinking the design and delivery of services, we can help ensure patients receive early, effective treatment and reduce the significant costs to the health service and society more widely."

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