Medical Mistake Claims - Simpson Millar LLP

Hepatitis C needs to be prioritised to provide better NHS care

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 24/07/2013

A report by the Hepatitis C Trust has found that only 25% of local authorities in England know the number of individuals in their region with hepatitis C.

Local authorities unprepared for hepatitis C

Further findings from the report highlight that only 20% of the local authorities have a designated member of staff for the disease and many don't even have a strategy in place to tackle the virus.

Just 40% of local authorities have arrangements with their NHS commissioners to coordinate how they manage the condition. This means that local authorities are unprepared to deal with the virus, especially worrying as research shows that a failure to act will lead to an increase in disease prevalence from 0.44% in 2010 to 0.61% in 2035.

According to Charles Gore, Chief Executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said this would mean "a significant increase in costs to the NHS and wider society". Estimates are that associated healthcare costs would increase from £82.7million in 2012 to £115million in 2035.

NHS Commissioners fail those with hepatitis C

The report also found:

  • Only 50% of NHS Commissioners encourage testing at GP surgeries for hepatitis C, this means that not enough people are being tested
  • Almost 50% of commissioners don't have measures in places to increase the treatment of hepatitis C, so not enough people who have the virus are being treated
  • Many NHS commissioners are not effective at monitoring how many people are taking up hepatitis C treatment or how many are clear of the virus after treatment

Facts about hepatitis

These figures are especially shocking when you consider the following:

  • Deaths from liver disease are increasing
  • Deaths from hepatitis C are seeing the fastest growth
  • 216,000 people in the UK have hepatitis C
  • More than half living with the condition are undiagnosed
  • If caught early, the disease can be treated and cured - but currently only 3% of people with the virus receive treatment each year

What can be done?

In total, the Hepatitis C Trust has made 14 recommendations. Six of these cover what each local authority should be doing:

  • Have a 'lead' person for liver health on their health and wellbeing board
  • Develop a comprehensive and thorough hepatitis C strategy which takes local needs into account
  • Equip health and wellbeing boards with information about how hepatitis C is affecting their community
  • Have measures in place that target all at risk groups
  • Use the HCV Action commissioning toolkit to better understand the public health commissioning process
  • Work with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to assess current and future local needs in regards to hepatitis C

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