September 11, 2013

Hepatitis C services in the UK: an interview with Louise Campbell, senior liver nurse at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

HCV_NewsHow do UK hepatitis C services compare to those in other countries?

Within the UK there are several centres whose nurse specialists work to a best practice model, delivering care and achieving outcomes which are extremely high in areas of patient retention, adherence to medication and completion of the treatment regimen. With this they achieve cure rates which are some of the highest in the World.

Unfortunately there are areas treating HCV in the UK which are not given the staff resources or support required to achieve this which can reduce the number of patients entering into and completing treatment.

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, has recently said, “The alarming rise in hepatitis C related deaths must be addressed”. Why do you think treatment rates for hepatitis C are declining?

In some situations treatment rates have declined as patients wait to access the ‘all oral’ treatment regimens which are currently in clinical trials. This should however be done in the knowledge of underlying liver condition and with the best information available in discussion with the patient's Hepatologist.

We are currently seeing an increasing rise in HCV diagnosis and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence delivered guidance to increase testing and awareness for HCV and Hepatitis B which I would like to think that some of the increase is as a result of this although as yet. There does not appear to be a reflection in the referral rates to the treatment centres for these patients as yet and there is significant variability in where there is access to treatment services for many patients. If the estimated 300,000 – 700,000 people suspected to be infected with HCV in England (most of who are unaware) is accurate then there are insufficient treatment units in the UK to deal with the health burden..

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