Liver Disease Public Health Emergency in Wales
Whilst there has been great progress for patients with liver disease and liver cancer, Wales continues to face a liver disease public health emergency. The crisis is driven by obesity, alcohol use and viral hepatitis – risk factors which are most prevalent in our most disadvantaged and deprived communities.
Liver disease deaths have doubled in the last two decades – surging by almost a quarter (23%) during the pandemic. Hospital admissions due to liver disease are 4 times higher in the most deprived areas due to severe health inequalities in liver disease outcomes and care. Sadly, in Wales, 9 in 10 people with liver cancer pass away within 5 years of being diagnosed.
The British Liver Trust team in Wales focus our efforts on supporting patients at the sharp end of the liver disease crisis using localised knowledge and relationships, including working with NHS management teams and health and wellbeing networks in every county.
Love Your Liver visits the Senedd Cymru
Welsh Parliament hold first ever debate on liver disease and liver cancer public health emergency
Liver disease crisis in Wales to come under the spotlight at Senedd Cymru
Sounding the Alarm on liver disease in Wales: Love your Liver goes to the Senedd Cymru
Amplifying patient voices at the Welsh Parliament
To turn the tide on the liver disease crisis in Wales, we are calling for urgent action from the Welsh Government to:
- Effective implementation of the Quality Statement on Liver Disease
- Establish a dedicated Liver Health Strategic Clinical Network
- Ensure the All Wales Abnormal Liver Blood Test Pathway is effectively implemented
- Expand the liver care workforce to address huge variation in outcomes and care
- Roll out non-invasive liver fibrosis tests in primary and community care across Wales
To translate this ambitious vision into reality, we campaign alongside patient supporters with lived experience to improve prevention and early diagnosis of liver disease and to tackle inequalities in treatment outcomes and care. We ensure the diverse voices of people affected by liver disease and liver cancer and their carers across Wales are heard at the highest level of government. Patient supporters are central to our advocacy at the Welsh Parliament and we regularly invite patients to share their lived experience with politicians.
We also manage the Cross Party Group on Liver Disease and Liver Cancer (CPG) and work closely with Members of the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru) across the political spectrum to help to drive policy change and influence legislation to transform outcomes for liver disease and liver cancer patients across Wales. The CPG undertakes a wide range of activities to help raise the profile of the liver disease crisis at the Welsh Parliament including holding inquiries, collecting evidence, organising debates, tabling Parliamentary Questions and publishing reports. The British Liver Trust provide members of the CPG with opportunities to support our vital work and raise awareness with their constituents including tailored briefings with local data, press releases, social media collateral, bilateral meetings and opportunities to visit liver units and attend our Love Your Liver roadshows.
Phil is a 50 year old living in Cardiff. He was diagnosed late with cirrhosis after an emergency hospital admission in 2018, which could have been avoided years earlier if he hadn’t experienced stigma from a healthcare professional:
When I was admitted to hospital, I had collapsed, was confused and had jaundice. I needed blood transfusions and invasive tests. I was told he could never drink again. Then I was discharged with little more than a dietician sheet and list of AA meetings and very limited awareness of how to manage my condition. Finding the British Liver Trust was a lifeline and it changed my life. I’m sharing my story at the Welsh Parliament today to help stamp out stigma ensure more people don’t go through what I went through.
We are an active part of the Liver Disease Implementation group working towards improving liver health services in Wales.
The British Liver Trust has campaigned for and supported the development of a new Liver Disease Registry. The Wales Liver Registry will collect important data so that scientists, researchers and clinicians truly understand the burden of liver disease in Wales and can effectively plan services and undertake research to improve patient outcomes.
Our work with healthcare professionals
We are joining up existing services and providing support for liver patients where none existed before. We have created a ‘community of support’ for liver patients by working with hepatologists and nurses in liver units across Wales. We have also developed strong relationships with county voluntary councils (CVCs) Health & Wellbeing Networks in each county of Wales and through the Betsi Cadwaladr Engagement Practitioners Network in North Wales.
Our patient information publications are widely used by clinicians across the country, and in partnership with the RCGP, we have produced a toolkit to support GPs in their quest for early diagnosis of liver disease in a primary care setting.
GPs across Wales can access the toolkit here: RCGP toolkit
Wales Love Your Liver Roadshow
Each year, we deliver a public awareness roadshow, touring Wales in our mobile unit. We take our Mobile Scanning Unit to locations across Wales, offering members of the public a liver health screener, free liver scan, health publications and information.
Love Your Liver events screen and scan around 100 people a day, and typically 16%-18% of people have indications of liver damage. In most cases they were completely unaware of this before they came to the roadshow.
- You can find out more about the three simple steps to Love Your Liver by downloading our bilingual leaflet here.
- You can view the latest roadshow schedule here.
Community Events and Liver Health Awareness Talks
The outreach team attend health and wellbeing events in the community raising awareness of liver disease and promoting liver health. This is often in partnership with third sector organisations as well as the NHS in Wales.
The team also deliver liver health awareness talks both online and in the community. The talks provide information about the work of the British Liver Trust – including Liver Cancer UK – our campaigns such as Sound the Alarm and Love Your Liver, policy work, our online liver health screener, and patient services – such as the nurse-led helpline and support groups.
Email email@example.com to find out more and book a talk.
Many patients and families affected by a liver condition or liver cancer find it helpful to speak to others with shared experience who understand their situation. The British Liver Trust runs a number of virtual support groups via zoom. There is a range of disease specific and general liver support groups.
If you would like to attend a virtual group, please follow this link to sign up to the monthly email with details of your preferred group: Virtual support group registration – we look forward to ‘seeing’ you soon!