Intended for healthcare professionals


Hepatitis C: NHS seeks to identify 55 000 patients for treatment

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 21 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4923
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

NHS records will be used to identify 55 000 people who tested positive for hepatitis C from 1996 to 2017 to encourage them to come forward for treatment.

The patients identified by Public Health England (PHE) will be sent letters explaining that the infection is now curable, in the hope that many will respond positively. Their GPs will be told in advance that the letters are about to be sent so that they can raise any concerns they have, such as a patient having a terminal diagnosis or having already been treated and cured.

Making amends

The proactive policy announced by PHE and NHS England marks a complete change of tack. When the direct acting antivirals for hepatitis C were launched and found to be cost effective NHS England’s first instinct was to control costs by rationing the numbers of people treated.

A junior health minister, Lord O’Shaughnessy, admitted earlier …

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