Liver patients face huge regional variation of care, charity warns – Richmond and Twickenham Times

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Huge swathes of the country do not manage liver disease and liver cancer in an effective way, a charity has warned.
A study led by the British Liver Trust found that three quarters of areas in the UK have little or no formal structures in place for detecting and managing liver disease and cancer.
The charity warned that three in four liver disease patients in the UK are diagnosed when it is too late for effective treatment.
The research, published in the British Journal of General Practice, examined data from health bodies across the UK.
Only one in five (20%) had a named person responsible for liver disease. In Wales the figure was 86%.
Researchers said the figures indicate the “priority given to liver disease”.
The team also found wide variation across different health organisations when it came to following gold standard treatment.
The authors praised Welsh health authorities and said that the results should be a “catalyst for change” in other regions.
Pamela Healy, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “Shockingly, deaths due to liver disease have more than doubled in the past 20 years and the condition is expected to overtake heart disease as the biggest cause of premature death in the UK in the next few years.
“Obesity, alcohol and viral hepatitis are the three main risk factors for preventable liver disease.
“We need to take urgent action to stop this silent killer in its tracks.
“Although the results of our research are very concerning, we do know that there are areas of good practice and that the changes we’re calling for are entirely possible and will save many lives.
“We now need to take what’s working well in those areas with good liver patient care and apply them in others so that every person with liver disease gets the best possible care, no matter where in the UK they live.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS is committed to finding, supporting and treating patients with liver disease and liver cancer and are in the process of building on successful programmes of work – such as our hepatitis C elimination network – in order to accelerate early diagnosis of these conditions, as part of our Long Term Plan commitments.”
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