The British Liver Trust launched the ‘Sound the Alarm on Liver Disease in Wales’ ten-point plan to Senedd Members and health care professionals in Wales on the 19th of October. The virtual event was an opportunity to share the Trust’s policy document and set out proposals for preventing liver disease and improving outcomes and care in Wales.
Pamela Healy, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, launched the virtual event welcoming attendees and discussed the liver disease challenges facing Wales and the report’s proposals. Clinical Lead for the Liver Disease Implementation Group and Hepatologist, Dr Andrew Yeoman, provided a thorough review of progress since the Welsh Government’s Liver Disease Delivery Plan was launched in 2015 and highlighted areas which will drive improvements as the Welsh Government moves from the Liver Disease Plan to a Liver Disease Quality Statement in April 2022.
Jane Cooke also spoke sharing her experience as a liver transplant patient and provided the voice of the patient.
The Welsh Government has led the way by being the first UK country to have a specific plan to address liver disease. Their 2015 Liver Disease Delivery Plan provided a comprehensive strategy to manage liver disease in Wales and data suggests signs of early stage improvements. The ‘Sound the Alarm on Liver Disease in Wales: A call to action’ builds on this work and provides ten key policy proposals to further drive improvements. The Trust has shared the report with Members of the Sixth Senedd and the Minister for Health, Baroness Eluned Morgan and it will shortly be shared with all Welsh MPs.
Obesity, alcohol and hepatitis are the most common causes of liver disease. The proportion of children and adults in Wales who are of a healthy weight is dropping and around 60% of adults are overweight or obese. Approximately 330 people die from alcohol-related liver disease in Wales every year. There are also an estimated 8,000 people infected with hepatitis C in Wales.
Sound the Alarm on Liver Disease in Wales: A call to action
‘Sound the Alarm on Liver Disease in Wales’ is calling for urgent action to improve liver disease awareness, prevention, treatment and outcomes. The report provides ten clear policy proposals to develop on the progress already made by the Government’s Liver Disease Delivery Plan and to inform the emerging Liver Disease Quality Statement.
The ten-point ‘call to action’ provides proposals for improving pathways for the early detection of liver disease, service improvements to weight and alcohol support, the elimination of hepatitis C, improvements in education and support for patients and an increase in hepatologist, specialist nurses and transplant referrals. These ten policy proposals provide a basis to inform future planning and next steps.
The ten-point call to action is to;
- Include liver disease as part of general health checks
- Increase access to weight management services across Wales
- Alcohol Care Teams in all Health Boards
- Deliver the ‘Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales’ programme
- Deliver on the WHO 2030 target to eliminate hepatitis C
- Ensure successful delivery of the ‘All Wales Liver Disease Pathway’
- Increase the number of hepatologists
- Every cirrhosis patient in Wales to have access to a specialist liver nurse
- Better signposting to services
- Increase the number of referrals for liver transplants
Pamela Healy, concluded the launch event by calling on Members of the Senedd to back the ten-point plan, join the new Cross-Party Group on Liver Disease and Liver Cancer and ensure the Government commits to build on its success and progress.