Hepatitis C elimination raised in the House of Lords

Baroness Randerson, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Liver Health, today (9th July) tabled a question in the House of Lords on the government's strategy for eliminating hepatitis C. 

Lord O’Shaughnessy, responding on behalf of the government, confirmed that the government currently has no plans to release an elimination strategy, but emphasised that they are working closely with the NHS towards an ambition of eliminating hepatitis C by 2025, five years ahead of the World Health Organization (WHO) target.

Baroness Randerson highlighted that the APPG’s recent inquiry report found that the NHS was not on track to deliver on this ambition given current testing and treatment numbers, with even the WHO target of elimination by 2030 presenting a challenge. She also pressed the minister on what the government was doing to increase awareness of hepatitis C.

Other members raised the impact of funding cuts to local health services on hepatitis C outreach and testing programmes, as well as the high prevalence of hepatitis C in the South Asian population and need for greater outreach to this community. Lord Patel emphasised how DAA treatments have revolutionised the hepatitis C treatment environment and that there is now no excuse for not ensuring universal access to treatment and investing in increasing the numbers of people diagnosed.

Lord Rennard also highlighted that the procurement environment for hepatitis C treatment has shifted, with prices dropping significantly. On behalf of the government, Lord O’Shaugnessy acknowledged that a more effective long-term funding agreement for hepatitis C treatment could have been arrived at earlier, when treatments initially became available. Nevertheless, NHS England’s current negotiations with industry are expected to result in an agreement facilitating universal access to treatment and scaling up case-finding programmes.

You can watch the short debate here