News Date: Monday 25th February 2008
Tim congratulates West Sussex PCT for taking action to tackle hepatitis C
East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton has congratulated West Sussex PCT for being one of the top scoring PCTs in an audit of hepatitis C services amongst Primary Care Trusts in England.
The local PCT scored 8 of 10 for effective implementation of the Government's Action Plan for Hepatitis C, over three years after the Action Plan was published. The All-Party Parliamentary Hepatology Group (APPHG) decided to conduct the audit following evidence from clinicians and patients indicating that services for patients differed widely across the country.
Hepatitis C is often known as the 'silent killer' as people can live with it undiagnosed and without symptoms for many years. There are estimated to be 230,000-466,000 people with hepatitis C in England, but only 63,000 have been diagnosed. This disease is both infectious and potentially life-threatening and, as such a major public health concern.
"I am delighted that our PCT is at the top of the league table of hepatitis C services.
"There are up to 500,000 people living with hepatitis C in the UK, but only 1 in 8 of these people has been diagnosed. I want West Sussex PCT to continue to lead the way in tackling this deadly disease."
Note to Editor:
1) About hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that principally affects the liver.
- Liver damage occurs slowly over 20-30 years and can lead to liver scarring (fibrosis), cirrhosis and ultimately to liver cancer or liver failure and death.
- It can be symptom-less which has led hepatitis C to be termed 'The Silent Epidemic'.
- There are estimated to be between 231,000 (HPA) to 466,000 (University of Southampton research) infected with hepatitis C in England.
- As a relatively newly identified disease (1989), there are still many aspects of it that are little or poorly understood.
- Hepatitis C is already a major cause of liver transplant in the UK.
- Yearly deaths from hepatitis C have trebled in the last 10 years
- There is no vaccine but treatment is available which can cure the disease in around half of patients
2) More details about hepatitis C can be found at www.hepctrust.org.uk The Hepatitis C Trust's helpline: 0845 223 4424