Sounding the Alarm on liver disease in Wales: Love your Liver goes to the Senedd Cymru

Posted on: 8th April 2022

The British Liver Trust held its first Roadshow at the Senedd Cymru to increase awareness amongst Welsh parliamentarians and policy makers on 22 March.

Russell George, MS and Chair of the Health and Care Committee

The Welsh Government has led the way by being the first UK country to have a specific plan to address liver disease. With the cessation of this plan, the British Liver Trust is now calling on the new Welsh Government to confirm the next steps in managing liver disease in Wales.

The Love Your Liver roadshow was positioned opposite the Senedd Cymru enabling Members of the Senedd to find out more about the needs of liver disease and liver cancer patients in Wales. The day provided an opportunity for the British Liver Trust to highlight the liver disease crisis and promote our policy calls.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, MS

The event was attended by a third of Senedd members, many of who took a liver screener and scan. The roadshow was also open to members of the public to check their liver and learn more about how to improve their liver health.

The Chair of the recently launched Cross Party Group on Liver Disease and Liver Cancer, Joel James MS, was the first Senedd Member to attend the Love Your Liver roadshow. Joel James said;

“It’s great to have the British Liver Trust providing liver screening and scanning services in Cardiff today. The Love Your Liver roadshow is raising awareness of liver disease in Wales and the shocking statistics that one in five of us are at risk of liver disease and the number of people being diagnosed is increasing at an alarming rate.”

Joel James, MS and Chair of Cross Party Group on liver disease and liver cancer

CEO of the British Liver Trust, Pamela Healy OBE, said:

“We are delighted to have engaged with so many Senedd Members from across the political spectrum at our Cardiff roadshow. The Love Your Liver roadshow provides the opportunity for politicians to learn more about liver health and see the roadshow in action.”

The roadshow was held after the launch of the Cross Party Group on Liver Disease and Liver Cancer at the beginning of March and marks a step change for the British Liver Trust in its engagement with the Senedd.

The new Cross Party Group aims in increase awareness of liver disease in the Senedd Cymru and promote policies to deliver better services and care for liver disease patients in Wales. The group, launched on 3 March, has three priority areas;

  • Improving the early diagnosis of liver disease
  • Improving and increasing the number of Alcohol Care Teams
  • Improving the Hepatology workforce in Secondary care

Carolyn Thomas, MS

The group is also calling on Welsh government to release the new liver disease Quality Statement this year, to provide much needed clarity in the policy approach to liver disease and certainty around planning for service delivery.

Wales introduced the Liver Disease Delivery Plan in 2015 and is the only nation to have a specific policy plan to address liver disease. Wales has also been an early adopter of patient care pathways for the early detection of liver disease, and introduced the ‘All Wales Abnormal Liver Blood Tests Pathway’ in October 2021. You can read more about what we are calling for in Wales here.

However, there remain significant challenges to the state of liver health in Wales. There has been an alarming 20% increase in alcohol-related liver deaths during the pandemic. Rising obesity levels have also caused the prevalence of ‘non-alcohol related liver disease’ to increase significantly over the last few decades.