On Tuesday 11th February Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, held a meeting with Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Health and Social Care. They discussed the brilliant work the APPG on Liver Health, of which Sir David is Chair, and The Hepatitis C Trust are doing to eliminate Hepatitis C in England.
Sir David and Baroness Blackwood were joined by representatives from the APPG for Liver Health, The Hepatitis C Trust and the London Joint Working Group. They raised the important role that community pharmacies play in engaging people from disadvantaged and marginalised communities to help eliminate the virus.
In 2018 the APPG on Liver Health released a report on the elimination of Hepatitis C, which offers recommendations for a comprehensive and strategic national elimination plan, including better needle and syringe provisions and increased availability of testing and treatment in community settings.
It is estimated 143,000 people in the UK are infected with Hepatitis C, of whom two-thirds are unaware they have the virus. The virus disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities which is why the Hepatitis C Trust has created a peer support programme designed to engage these communities and find the undiagnosed. This programme engages 107 people on average every day and has reached 5,200 people in prison since 2017.
After the meeting Sir David said “It was great to meet with Baroness Blackwood today and discuss the brilliant work being done to eliminate Hepatitis C in England. Community pharmacies play an essential role in all aspects of healthcare, but especially when it comes to ensuring diagnosis and treatment reaches vulnerable communities. I look forward in my role as Chair of the APPG to continue this important work and further support the elimination drive.”