The National Plan for Liver Services UK 2009

A Time to Act: Improving Liver Health and Outcomes in Liver Disease


Prepared by the:

British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL)

British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) (Liver Section)

Key facts

  • Liver disease is the 5th largest cause of death in the U.K. The average age of death from liver disease is 59 years, compared to 82-84 years for heart & lung disease or stroke.
  • Liver disease morbidity and mortality are largely preventable.
  • The UK is one of few developed nations with an upward trend in mortality.
  • Patients are presenting and dying with liver disease at an earlier age, with a 5-fold increase in the development of cirrhosis in 35-55 year olds over the last 10 years
  • The majority of treatable liver disease is undiagnosed and untreated.  Early diagnosis and treatment requires engagement of primary care.
  • Effective prevention strategies or treatments are available for the three main causes of liver disease – alcohol, viral hepatitis and obesity. These decrease the risk of developing cirrhosis, liver cancer and their associated mortality.
  • The prevalence of chronic hepatitis B in the UK is increasing dramatically as a result of migration. The UK is in a minority by not providing universal vaccination against hepatitis B. Identification of patients with hepatitis B within high prevalence groups is suboptimal.
  • With appropriate action, the associated disease burden for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C could be largely eliminated by 2030 and 2040 respectively.
  • Secondary care of liver disease is currently poorly organized and services could be radically improved at relatively little cost.
  • Liver disease represents one of the few diseases where the inequalities gap is increasing.
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