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Liver disease deaths reach record levels

22nd March 2012

Heavy drinking, obesity and hepatitis are believed to be behind figures which show deaths from liver disease in England have reached record levels.

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In the last ten years deaths have risen by 25%, according to a report by the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network.

Deaths were highest in men, with the highest number of fatalities in the North West.

Professor Martin Lombard, national clinical director for liver disease, said the report made “stark reading” about the needs of people dying with liver disease.

He added: “Over 70% end up dying in hospital and this report is timely in helping us understand the challenges in managing end-of-life care for this group of people.

“The key drivers for increasing numbers of deaths from liver disease are all preventable, such as alcohol, obesity, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. We must focus our efforts and tackle this problem sooner rather than later.”

Deaths from liver disease rose from 9,231 in 2001 to 11,575 in 2009 with other evidence showing a 60% rise in alcoholic liver disease in young people over seven years.

Report lead author and clinical lead for the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, Professor Julia Verne, said it was important for commissioners, health providers and social care services to be aware of the prevalence of liver disease in their areas.

The British Liver Trust said the report showed liver patients have been failed by the healthcare system while Alcohol Concern said it revealed loss of life through alcoholic liver disease "remains as big a problem as ever".

 

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