NHS SMPA launches new programme to eliminate Hepatitis C in our services

 

The NHS Substance Misuse Provider’s Alliance is pleased to announce that we, in partnership with Gilead, have been successful in securing funding to develop a programme aimed at eliminating Hepatitis C in our services.

Gilead and NHS SMPA’s programme has been developed to drive widespread implementation of established best practice pathways across all NHS SMPA member services. The project also aims to support NHS service provider engagement with Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) in order to treat and cure over 6,000 additional patients and create effective elimination in member services. This includes using streamlined routes into treatment alongside award-winning peer engagement projects which, in some localities, have led to the micro elimination of Hepatitis C in service caseloads.


What is Hep C?

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which most commonly affects the liver. Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through blood-to-blood contact, such as sharing unsterilised needles. Intravenous drug use is the most common way to contract the virus and it is estimated that around half of people who inject drugs in England have, at some point, been infected. Hepatitis C doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. As a result, a person may have the virus without realising it.


The programme will build upon these innovations and continue to develop the effective work many NHS drug and alcohol services currently provide, increasing and extending their impact across the many sites NHS SMPA members work in. Candie Lincoln, Programme Lead, commented: “This highlights how NHS trusts collaborating and working in partnership with organisations from other sectors can amplify the impact NHS services can have on the health and wellbeing of those service users it treats and supports to improve their lives”.

“If left untreated, the Hepatitis C virus can cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver and may also have adverse effects on the digestive system, lymphatic system, immune system and brain,” said Danny Hames, Chair of NHS SMPA. “Building on the local Hepatitis C elimination programmes our Members have piloted in their individual services, we are thrilled to be working with NHS England and Gilead on this innovative partnership project which will ensure that service users who have contracted Hep C are tested, treated and cured quickly and in line with evidenced best practice.”

Hilary Hutton-Squire, General Manager, Vice President UK & Ireland at Gilead commented: 

“We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with NHS SMPA, which will ultimately allow the elimination of Hepatitis C throughout the network by 2023. It is critical to work to improve the care pathway of identification, diagnosis and potentially treatment for several thousands of patients and we are looking forward to reaching this ambition together with NHS SMPA in the coming years.’

In addition to partnering with Gilead on the programme, NHS SMPA will also be working closely with CCGs, Local Authorities and other local and regional organisations and stakeholders. NHS SMPA aims to ensure that messaging is disseminated to high-risk groups as effectively as possible as well as enabling existing services and the new Hep C programme to work together to provide holistic, high quality care to all service users.  


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