Welsh Liberal Democrat leader visits Cardiff hospital

Kirsty Williams, Welsh Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire and leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, visited University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff on 18th November to find out about the treatment services on offer to people in Cardiff and the surrounding areas with hepatitis C, as well as to find out more about the new Welsh Liver Disease Delivery Plan.

Ms Williams was shown round the hospital, including the Infectious Diseases Unit, by a delegation which included Delyth Tomkinson (Clinical Nurse Specialist); Prof. Marcus Longley (Vice Chair of Cardiff & Vale University Health Board); Dr Lawrence Sunderaj (Consultant Hepatologist); Tara Rees (Hepatology Nurse Specialist, and Dr Graham Shortland (Medical Director of Cardiff & Vale University Health Board).

Ms Williams was told by clinical staff of the enormous benefits and potential of new hepatitis C treatments, and the possibilities that they afford to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern. She also learned more about the role of the Liver Disease Delivery Plan in these efforts.

Following the visit, Ms Williams said:

“It is essential that people in Wales with hepatitis C are able to access these new hepatitis C treatments; not only in order to be cured of a potentially fatal virus, but to also contribute towards a reduction in liver-related deaths, and in doing so significantly reduce the future financial burden on the NHS in Wales.

Welsh Government funding has been provided for some of these medicines but it is not secured long term and is only for those patients who are most ill, which can put people in the perverse position of having to make themselves sicker before they can get a potentially lifesaving 

The point I make whenever I get asked questions about the Cancer Drugs Fund or other such schemes put forward in Wales is, “what about all the other illnesses?” Of course cancer is important as it affects so many of our lives but there are lots of other illnesses that devastate people’s lives that we must address too.”

Neil Cowan, Policy and Parliamentary Adviser at The Hepatitis C Trust, said:

“We were delighted to help co-ordinate Kirsty William’s visit to the University Hospital of Wales to find out more about hepatitis C. With an estimated 12,000-14,000 people in Wales with hepatitis C, it is a significant public health issue, and there is still a huge amount of work to do to tackle the virus. The support of Assembly Members like Kirsty is vital in supporting that effort.”