To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the geographical variation in (a) the provision and (b) delivery of liver care services in England; and what plans his Department has to (a) reduce that variation and (b) improve liver disease survival rates.
It is not possible to disaggregate the number of people with liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer who have died as a result of COVID-19 infection, nor the number of COVID-19 deaths of patients with liver failure as a proportion of all COVID-19 deaths in the United Kingdom. This is due to the way data is collected
The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the importance of preventing avoidable liver disease through targeted policies to address alcohol consumption and obesity. As the NHS recovers from the impact of the pandemic, specialised commissioning teams will be refocusing their efforts on achieving the ambitions set out in the Long Term Plan and working with local systems and clinical networks to improve outcomes for people with preventable and complex conditions, including liver disease.
NHS England is developing liver networks in England, supported by the Hepatobiliary Clinical Reference Group, to enable quicker access to specialised liver services, as well as providing clinical advice on disease prevention and referral practice. To address geographical variation, NHS England and NHS Improvement, with support from Public Health England, are helping acute hospitals with the highest rates of alcohol harm to establish or improve specialist alcohol care teams. Areas at highest need will be supported by targeted national investment. To improve survival rates and support earlier detection of alcohol-related liver disease, NHS England and NHS Improvement are also developing a commissioning for quality and innovation scheme to incentivise increased cirrhosis and fibrosis tests for alcohol dependent patients in acute and mental health services.