Lancet liver recommendations must be implemented to address crisis

The British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) has today urged for the Lancet Commission UK Liver Disease Publication recommendations to be pursued "without delay" to "address the UK liver disease crisis".

Liver Disease mortality rates have increased by 400% since 1970 and is the third most common form of premature death in the UK.

The most common form of liver disease is alcohol-related, followed by fatty liver disease caused by obesity. The steep rise in both alcohol consumption and obesity in recent decades has led to increases in both conditions.

Incidences of chronic viral hepatitis are also on the rise, with annual deaths from hepatitis C having quadrupled since 1996, and significant increases in hepatitis B infection.

The Lancet report calls for wide-reaching, joined-up action including:

  1. Better detection of early disease in primary care
  2. Improved support services in community settings
  3. The establishment of Liver Units in District General Hospitals
  4. A national review of liver transplantation services
  5. Strengthening of continuity of care for children with liver disease surviving into adult life
  6. A range of population-level measures such as a minimum unit price for alcohol
  7. Promotion of healthier lifestyles with clearer government messaging and new regulations on the food industry
  8. Eradication of chronic HBV and HCV infection from the country by 2020
  9. Greater provision of medical training in hepatology
  10. A national campaign led by NHS England to increase awareness of liver disease in the general population

Dr Stephen Ryder, Hepatology Vice President of the British Society of Gastroenterology, stated:

“This is the most significant report on the crisis of liver disease in a generation.

“It is absolutely imperative that collective action is taken without delay to ensure all of the measures are delivered to address the UK liver disease crisis.

“We will work with other patient and professional organisations to drive forward the report recommendations, particularly around the improvement of services.

“We all need to work together – patients, doctors, NHS bodies and the Government – to make sure we deliver.

“The BSG has been campaigning with members for years for improved liver services and public health policies which address alcohol-related harm and obesity.

"We are delighted to have joined with other colleagues in producing this landmark report, which paves the way for saving lives and making best use of vital NHS funds.”

Read the full Lancet Commission: The Lancet: Addressing liver disease in the UK