Hepatitis C could be eradicated in a generation if the government prioritised the condition and invested more in services including specialist nurses, a charity has claimed.
The Hepatitis C Trust claims deaths and hospital admissions for hepatitis C-related end stage liver disease and liver cancer have nearly quadrupled in the last 15 years with many of these likely to be avoidable.
The report said there was evidence that specialist nursing services in the community were a better alternative to numerous hospital appointments and admissions for hepatitis C patients.
Charles Gore, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said many patients faced a “postcode lottery of care” due to the lack of a national liver strategy.
He added: “Instead of letting this virus continue to take the lives of the poorest fastest, we could effectively eradicate it in England within a generation. However, to do this we must diagnose and offer care to everyone, regardless of their geographical location or background.”
Jayne Dodd, a hepatitis specialist nurse, works as part of a nurse led network providing specialist care in hospitals, the community and in prisons.
She said: “It’s vitally important to have specialist hepatitis C in-reach or an equivalent service in the primary care setting.
“The majority of nurses in primary care are required to meet more general clinical needs yet hepatitis C is a such complicated disease area that specialist knowledge is essential to provide the best duty of care.”