Sheriff and Alderman of City of London, Alastair King has been appointed the new Chair of the British Liver Trust. Here he talks about his aspirations for the charity.
I am delighted to be the new Chair of the British Liver Trust. Liver disease is the big killer that no one is talking about. This needs to change. I was shocked to learn that deaths have doubled in the last twenty years, and that it is the only major disease that is increasing in mortality year on year.
Since becoming involved in the Trust I have been so impressed how much this charity achieves with limited resources and a relatively small team. However, we need to grow so we can support more people, drive up standards of care and ensure more people are diagnosed early when the disease can be halted or reversed.
An important focus in our strategy is therefore the heartbreaking challenge of preventable deaths. Liver disease is the third leading cause of premature death in the UK. And yet, whilst up to 90% of liver disease is reversible if caught at an early stage, three quarters of people with cirrhosis in the UK are diagnosed in an emergency setting, when it is often too late for effective treatment or intervention.
Key to all of this is awareness. With more than one in five of us at risk of liver disease, the British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver national campaign raises public understanding of the risks and I was delighted that thanks to our supporters we have recently bought a new mobile unit. This vital initiative showcases the campaign touring the country offering people an opportunity to take our online screening test and get a free scan. As Chairman I want to ensure that we utilise this new asset as much as possible and prevent more people from being diagnosed at a stage when it is too late to get treatment.
Our Make Early Diagnosis Routine campaign was launched in to change that. Only 26% of UK health bodies currently have effective pathways in place for early detection, so we are working with politicians and health leaders to bring about change, with overwhelming support from the public. I am immensely proud of the change that this charity is driving.
Now more than ever, we need to put liver disease in the spotlight. Deaths from liver disease in the UK increased by an alarming 21% from 2019 to 2021. I hope that you will join me in supporting this charity.