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Fewer patients are dying from alcohol-related liver disease, but people still need to do more to avoid preventable liver conditions, a new report published today by the Welsh Government reveals.

First published:
15 July 2016
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The first all-Wales annual report for liver disease sets out the progress made against the Welsh Government’s Together for Health – Liver Disease Delivery Plan and identifies areas for future improvement.

The report shows that there has been a 7% reduction in the number of people dying from alcohol-related liver disease in the past five years, from 494 deaths in 2010 to 459 deaths in 2014. There has been a reduction in alcohol consumption above the recommended guidelines, from 44% in 2010 to 40% in 2015.

The Welsh Government’s Liver Disease Delivery Plan was introduced to tackle the rising number of deaths from liver disease in Wales. The number of such deaths has more than doubled over the past 20 years, largely due to the rise in obesity, alcohol misuse and blood borne viral hepatitis. Cases of liver disease as a result of these three causes are almost entirely preventable.

To support the Plan, the Welsh Government announced £2.4m of funding in February to improve education, early intervention and prevention, and to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

The report acknowledges areas for improvement, including the need to reduce the number of emergency admissions for liver disease and the need to continue to tackle the increasing trend in both mortality and incidence of liver cancer.

Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health said: 
 “The liver disease delivery plan we published last year aims to stop the rise in liver disease and deaths, give patients more support, improve the quality of services, and encourage patients to take responsibility for their health and care.
“I am encouraged the report shows that fewer people are dying from alcohol-related liver disease and that fewer people are binge drinking, however there is still some way to go to reverse the trend in liver disease deaths.
“Our NHS will continue to play its part in treating those who need it but all of us have to do more to avoid preventable conditions.”

Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales said: 
“Our aim is for the Welsh NHS to provide the highest standard of care for everyone with liver disease.
“The publication of this first all-Wales report brings together information about how NHS Wales services for people with liver disease are performing. It highlights the progress we have made in this area and identifies areas for future improvement.
“There are many challenges ahead, but through continuing to work with partners we can maintain this momentum. Our priorities over the next year will be to raise awareness of risk factors and lifestyle changes to prevent liver disease and improve early diagnosis, whilst ensuring that clinical pathways are in line with patient need.”