Call For Improvements To Hepatitis C Care

The Hepatitis C Coalition Wants To See Improvements To The Management Of The Condition

04.11.2014

Significant improvements are needed to hepatitis C care in the UK, according to a new report.

Figures from Public Health England show that deaths from the condition have increased four-fold since 1996, rising from 98 to 428 in 2012.

It is believed that around 215,000 people in Britain have a chronic form of hepatitis C and its fatality rate is increasing faster than that for cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Hepatitis C affects the liver, but symptoms - including fatigue and depression - often do not show themselves until the condition has entered an advanced stage. It can be caught if an individual comes into contact with the blood of a sufferer.

The condition has received some media coverage, due to high-profile figures such as Keith Richards and Pamela Anderson being infected with it, but the Hepatitis C Coalition is calling for more to be done to improve care services and increase awareness of the illness.

If not treated properly, hepatitis C can lead to further liver problems, including cancer and cirrhosis, and can prove fatal.

Although often associated with drug abuse, the condition can be spread through people sharing razors and toothbrushes, meaning more individuals need to know they could be at risk of contracting it and that there is a high standard of care available.

Chair of the Hepatitis C Coalition Professor Mark Thursz commented: "We are in a very fortunate position to have cost-effective treatments that will cure the majority of hepatitis C patients, but we need to find these patients and treat them.

"To seize this opportunity, we need strong national leadership, coordination and oversight to ensure patients do not die prematurely when a cure is available."

The Hepatitis C Coalition has published eight recommendations in a report entitled 'Vision For Change In Hepatitis C', which include improving screening and diagnosis, as well as access to treatment.

Expert Opinion
The rising number of deaths caused by hepatitis C is extremely worrying and it is vital more is done to protect patients and prevent the further spread of the virus. We have seen first-hand the devastating consequences hepatitis C can have on victims if it is not diagnosed and treated correctly.

“It is critical awareness of the virus is increased among patients and medical professionals are aware of the symptoms they need to be aware off. Undoubtedly, these figures will worry many people and it is vital they are given reassurances that patient safety continues to be treated as an absolute priority and that the recommendations offered by the Hepatitis C Coalition are being taken seriously.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner