The British Liver Trust has successfully campaigned to ensure that liver disease is now included in the NHS Health Check.
The NHS Health Check is a health check-up for adults in England aged 40 to 74. It's designed to spot the early signs of long-term conditions such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. In April 2013, the NHS Health Check became a statutory public health service in England and local authorities are mandated to offer the check in a variety of settings, including general practices, pharmacies, and community settings.
Three quarters of people are diagnosed with liver disease at a late stage, by which time the opportunity for treatment and intervention is often limited and sometimes too late. As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing liver disease. An NHS Health Check helps to find ways to lower this risk and to ensure people with the early stages of liver disease are diagnosed earlier. They can then make lifestyle changes to improve their liver function and prevent it from becoming a serious health problem.
The British Liver Trust is working with the Royal College of Practitioners (RCGP) to raise awareness of liver disease in primary care so that it is diagnosed earlier. As part of this programme of work, the steering committee developed a case for liver disease to be included in the NHS Health Check and submitted this to Public Health England. The case has now been accepted.
The new NHS Health Check Best Practice Guidance 2019, published in October 2019, now includes liver disease for the first time.
The British Liver Trust will be working with Public Health England to disseminate the guidance and ensure that it is implemented in practice. The inclusion of liver disease in the NHS Health Check guidance is consistent with NICE guidance and the British Liver Trust is also currently submitting evidence to NICE, as we hope that the guidance can be strengthened in the future.