Charity urges Harlow residents to write to their MP to overturn Government U-Turn on early detection of liver disease
Health / Wed 18th Oct 2023 at 06:24am
PEOPLE in the East of England are being asked to write to their MP to demand that their local Community Diagnostic Centre includes a FibroScan after a government U-turn on the issue.
The government has reneged on its pledge to offer liver scans in the newly announced centres in England, warns the UK’s leading liver health charity. The British Liver Trust raised concerns following an official correction by Government, after Health Ministers had previously made the commitment in writing.
In the East of England, 8,290 people were admitted to hospital due to liver disease in 2021/22 and tragically, there were 997 deaths caused by liver disease among people under the age of under 75 in 2021.
The original announcement to roll out liver scanning services to 100 Community Diagnostic Centres by March 2025 was a ray of hope for early detection and intervention. FibroScan, a non-invasive and painless technology, has proven to be a gamechanger in detecting liver disease at its early stages when treatments and interventions are most effective.
The commitment was made both in writing by Health Minister Helen Whateley MP in March 2023 and confirmed by Health Minister Will Quince MP in a Westminster Hall debate on fatty liver disease in June 2023.
This change to the rollout of liver scanning services to Community Diagnostic Centres has been made against a backdrop of a 22% surge in liver disease hospital admissions in a year, with over 82,000 people being admitted to hospitals in England in the year ending March 2022 alonei. This marks a staggering 47% increase compared to figures from a decade ago. Alarmingly, over the last 20 years, liver disease mortality rates have doubled and continue to rise. It is therefore unclear why the Department of Health has decided to roll back on this life-saving initiative.
In a letter to Helen Whately, Minister of State for Social Care, the British Liver Trust has urged the government to reconsider its decision and prioritise early detection of liver disease.
Pamela Healy OBE, Chief Executive at the British Liver Trust says: “The UK is currently facing a liver disease crisis and one in three of us is at risk, and we are deeply concerned about the government backtracking on their early commitment to increase early detection of liver disease.
“While there are currently ten Community Diagnostic Centres offering liver scanning services, there are now indications that the government may not expand this vital initiative any further. This decision undermines our collective efforts to address the liver disease epidemic in the UK. Early detection is crucial in saving lives and reducing the burden on healthcare services. We urge the government to rethink their approach and prioritise the health and wellbeing of our nation.”
If found early liver disease damage can be halted or even reversed.
Pamela continues: “We call upon the Health Secretary to reassess the government’s approach and ensure the immediate reinstatement of the original plan to roll out FibroScan services to 100 Community Diagnostic Centres by March 2025. It is vital that the assessment of liver damage is made available as part of routine clinical and community care nationwide if we are to curb the growing liver disease crisis.”
Find out more about the British Liver Trust’s campaign to the government and how to get involved here: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-scan-campaign
Fat lot of good writing to our MP. Despite writing my initial email four months ago, followed up by three reminders that I'd not had a reply, plus one phone call to his constituency office, nothing. Except the auto response saying he is busy working hard for Harlow.