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A faulty production line

GPs braced for surge in hep C

GPs have been warned to brace themselves for a surge of patients who believe they may have undiagnosed hepatitis C following new Government guidance on the condition.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance said only 2,000 patients were receiving treatment but up to 500,000 people were believed to be infected.

The Hepatitis C Trust charity said it was planning a campaign with the Department of Health to raise awareness and urge patients to see their GP.

The NICE guidance, released last week, recommended GPs refer patients who test positive to specialist centres for counselling and treatment.

It approves peginterferon alfa/ribavirin combination therapy, which is likely to cost the NHS an extra £6.4 million per year.

Dr Sunil Angris, a member of the NICE appraisal committee and a GP in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said the increase in workload would be 'variable', with inner-city practices bearing the brunt.

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