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Independents' Day

Calls for GPs to test for and treat hepatitis C

GPs should test more patients for hepatitis C and even treat patients once diagnosed to improve management of the disease, leading experts in the field have said.

Researchers reported at the International Liver Congress in London that tripling diagnosis and treatment rates could ‘virtually eliminate’ hepatitis C in the UK by 2030.

The team, led by Professor William Rosenberg, from University College London, said this would involve increasing the number of treatable people four-fold, by upping diagnosis rates 2.7 fold through ‘the development of specific case find strategies’.

As part of this, GPs could be called on to test more patients falling into key risk groups as well as potentially opportunistically testing those in less obviously at-risk groups, an approach being adopted in the USA for the ‘baby boomer’ generation with the introduction of simple finger-prick tests.

The Hepatitis C Trust said NHS England and Public Health England needed to ‘set a clear goal of eliminating hepatitis C within the next 15 years and should set out joint plans for achieving this goal’.

The Trust also recently called for GPs to be incentivised through QOF to screen patients for liver problems.

The call coincided with the launch of new guidance on diagnosing and managing hepatitis C from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which said GPs should take on treatment of the disease.

It said: ‘Currently, HCV [hepatitis C virus] therapy is provided in specialised centers by hepatologists or other subspecialists.

‘For HCV therapy to be expanded, it will need to be administered by general-practice physicians and other health care workers in primary-care clinics.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • No - it will need to be administered by gastroeneterologists/secondary care nurse specialists. GPs cannot be the default setting for everything.

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  • How can GPs be expected to take on highly specialised work best undertaken by a hepatologist who is trained for years in this field.

    I am very flattered that they think GPs can master everything without the requisite training.

    I think the future is hospitals doing more for their patients because there aren't enough GPs. Many have decided that penury is preferable to the torture of General Practice. Look around you, GPs are flooding out of the profession. They are emigrating, retiring early or doing something else.

    The politicians should be very worried but I have not seen a flicker of concern in what they say. They are fools. They are going to wait until there are queues round the block to register with an NHS GP.

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  • More work for the infinitely elastic world of General Practice I see.

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  • After a vote in my surgery, hepatologists should be encouraged to see test and treat everyone with anxiety and depression and do so in their own time.

    This will greatly reduce the burden of work on the NHS as a whole and will directly improve the care of patients.

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  • Cant, I am doing hip replacements on those days......

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  • GPs can and must undertake screening and management of hepatitis c if they are properly funded for the pilot, involving primary and secondary expertise. GPs must be able to employ extra staff required to do the job properly .

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  • Tom Caldwell

    Hep C Dx we can help with, the monitoring and treatment of Hep C is a specialist undertaking dependent upon genotype the treatment can be in excess of 6 months. The treatment is heavy in side effects and monitoring during which time the patients may not be stable. This is not yet suitable for widespread primary care management.

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  • I am Dr. Iyabiye a traditional herbal specialist, I treat and cure HEPATITIS. Reach me through Tell:+2348072229413

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