New Scottish research partnership aims to improve access to liver services

Posted on: 25th July 2023

The British Liver Trust is providing patient representation and support for the Scottish Hepatology Access Research Partnership (SHARP).

SHARP is a Scotland wide partnership that will bring together specialists in liver disease and public health, general practitioners, social care services and other charities.

The project aims to develop research ideas to understand and improve access to liver services in Scotland.

The SHARP project is being supported by new funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research. The funding is designed to help build capacity and capability in liver disease research.

SHARP are proposing the following areas of work:

  1. Understanding current access to liver services across Scotland
  2. New technologies to monitor liver disease
  3. Identifying people at risk of liver-related events
  4. Recognition of factors affecting engagement with liver services

and are asking people to complete a short  to ensure SHARP is addressing the issues that matter most to you.
Take the survey


Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Communications and Policy at the British Liver Trust said, “We’re delighted to be one of the key partners of this initiative. By placing the patient voice at the centre of the partnership, we aim to gain much better insight into the barriers that patients face when accessing liver services. We hope that the resulting research will drive up care across Scotland and the rest of the UK”.

Speaking about getting the funding, NHS Tayside’s Dr Ruairi Lynch, Consultant Hepatologist and joint lead applicant, said:

“We are delighted to have secured this support to develop an array of research ideas to improve liver services in Scotland.

Potential areas of research might include finding out about people’s experience of contacting liver services and how it can be made better; finding new ways to detect and monitor liver disease without needing to travel to hospitals; and working out how to care for those who don’t have access to the internet.

The inclusion of the British Liver Trust is of particular importance to us at SHARP. Their role is not only to provide a patient’s view on the research ideas, but also to help design and deliver the studies. We hope that this partnership will lead to patient-led research that will deliver real change.”

Professor Ewan Forrest, NHS Research Scotland Hepatology Clinical Lead, and joint lead applicant, added:

“It’s fantastic news that this funding has been awarded to the SHARP project. Many people with liver disease have trouble in seeing doctors and specialist medical services, and Scotland has a higher rate of deaths from liver disease than other parts of the UK, often related to deprived areas and areas far from medical services.

That makes this research important for the Scottish population, but it also makes sense for the research to be conducted here for other reasons: consistent links between Health Boards and social services, and very good electronic health records which can be accessed from the Safe Havens, make Scotland a very good setting too.”

Although this project is based in Scotland, the work will apply to other areas of the UK which have similar issues with people who can’t easily see liver doctors, but who need high-quality liver services.