Hep C care in UK 'patchy'14th January 2009
Health organisations have been urged to follow the lead of Scotland in tackling a hepatitis C "time bomb".
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Hepatology Group has pointed to the recent launch by the Scottish government of an action plan to quadruple the number of sufferers getting help.
But it suggests a lack of action in England and Wales against the virus which is spread through contact with infected blood.
While only 70,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with the condition there are fears that as many as 400,000 people may have the hepatitis C virus, which if untreated can cause cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.
MPs said the action plan published in England in 2004 had had little impact and Wales has yet to publish a strategy.
The report said many GPs were still not fully aware of what to look out for, and many NHS trusts had not put proper infrastructures in place to ensure those diagnosed got access to treatment with only £7m has been made available to tackle the condition.
Northern Ireland has an action plan while Scotland has a two-stage plan in place with £43m of funding to help prevent, care and treat hepatitis C.
Bob Laxton, co-chair of the group, said: "Our report shows there's so much more that needs to done to tackle hepatitis C.
"Scotland is leading the way and we must quickly follow otherwise we will continue to see more and more unnecessary deaths."
The Department of Health in England is planning a public awareness campaign.
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Title: Hep C care in UK 'patchy'
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9817
Date Added: 14th Jan 2009