The UK Liver Alliance has written to the Secretary of State for Health, Steve Barclay, calling for liver disease to be appropriately recognised in policy initiatives, plans and strategies. The UK Liver Alliance is a coalition of more than 30 organisations, who are committed to improving liver health.
Following Steve Barclay’s recent Written Statement to the House, announcing the new Major Conditions Strategy, the UK Liver Alliance raised concerns around the omission of liver disease in the statement and more widely in the Department’s policy approach.
Historically liver disease has not been appropriately included in initiatives around noncommunicable diseases and is often omitted from Department of Health policy to address public health challenges.
Up to 1 in 5 people are affected by non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the UK. The Office for Health Improvements and Disparities reports that liver disease and liver cancer caused 2.5% of deaths in England in 2020. Almost half of these deaths occur in people of working age (ages 15 to 64). Liver disease has increased by 400% since the 1970s, driven by a range of factors including overweight and obesity.
Pamela Healy OBE, Chair of the UK Liver Alliance said
“Liver disease needs to be pushed up the Department for Health’s policy priority list. For too long it has been stigmatised and omitted from plans and initiatives.
This sends a terrible message to the NHS, Integrated Care Boards and GPs, around the importance of liver disease. We urgently need greater GP awareness around liver disease and better early diagnosis, treatment and care for patients.
The UK Liver Alliance will continue to promote the prioritisation of liver disease with the Secretary of State for Health, until we have the policies in place to properly manage liver disease and to start to improve care and outcomes for liver disease patients.”
The UK Liver Alliance have asked Department of Health officials to look at how the Department can meaningfully include liver disease in its policy work and specifically how it can be addressed in the Major Conditions Strategy.