Daily Archives: 08/04/2014

Heavy drinkers to be considered for NHS liver transplants

This was the title of a news piece in the Guardian featured a couple of days ago which you can read here

Why am I mentioning it in my blog?  Because our society and Govt is trying to ignore the fact that alcohol is a problem.  As a reader Kim shared with me recently, our UK Govt feel that the Home Office is the appropriate department to oversea alcohol as an issue from a law and order perspective.  I feel that this is hugely inappropriate and this article reminds us that it is primarily a health issue and should be managed by the Department of Health accordingly.

The patients the doctors are looking to treat in the pilot scheme must be relatively young – between 18 and 40 – seeing a doctor for the first time with liver disease, and being diagnosed with a drink problem for the first time.

The move comes amid mounting concern over rises in deaths from alcohol-related liver disease.  Liver disease of all kinds is going up steadily, the only major disease category in which premature mortality is increasing in Britain while falling elsewhere in Europe, a trend that will mean steeply increased demand for replacement organs.

Already about a fifth of liver transplants involve patients whose liver condition has been linked to their drinking, including the late footballer George Best.

The fact that the pilot is looking for people between the age of 18 and 40 tells us that there is a need.  That people of this young age are dying because of alcohol related diseases and requiring transplantation is in itself deeply worrying. The fact that the Govt fail to acknowledge alcohol as a primarily health issue is both disingenuous and misleading.   It leads my cynical mind to conclude that outside influences are at play.

An email from Alcohol Policy UK yesterday also commented on the liver disease issue saying:

The all-party Parliamentary Hepatology Group says deaths from liver diseasee in England have risen 40% between 2001-2012, and that the lack of Government action to tackle it is ‘scandalous’, reports the BBC and the Guardian.

Where are you Public Health England on this issue?