As part of new national capital funding awarded by Public Health England (PHE) to help improve the lives of those affected by alcohol, Leeds will be extending the existing programme of alcoholic liver disease testing through the purchase of three FibroScan machines.
A new programme established in Leeds to identify individuals with alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD), allows GPs and alcohol workers to screen patients who are at high risk and provides hepatology services in GP practices.
Hepatology – which is the branch of medicine that incorporates the study of liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas as well as management of their disorders – is an important part of healthcare for those with alcohol-related illness.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults said:
“This collaboration between public health, primary care and the Leeds Liver Unit is an excellent example of how we work in Leeds to make the most of our resources in the city. It will help us tackle the increased rates of alcohol-related liver disease seen in women, highlighted in the recent Director of Public Health annual report.
“Early results from this programme have been encouraging, with increased screening and referral rates, and new cases of significant disease identified that would otherwise have gone undetected.”
The award to Leeds City Council’s Public Health team provides an alcohol treatment capital grant worth £220,300 to purchase three portable FibroScan machines.
The new machines will see an expansion of current services and extend the programme citywide, enabling screening and treatment for ArLD in primary care into more areas of Leeds, and at Forward Leeds (Leeds Integrated Drug and Alcohol Service) hubs. Ultimately, the ambition is to be able to offer screening and treatment to everyone at risk of ArLD in Leeds.
Dr Richard Parker, Consultant Hepatologist at Leeds Liver Unit, St. James’s Hospital said:
“This funding from PHE will significantly increase our ability to offer screening for advanced liver disease to people in Leeds. By improving access to advanced diagnostic tools, we will be able to identify people at high risk of liver-related ill health and offer them treatment to prevent severe, life threatening complications of liver disease.”
The funding is part of a total of £6 million allocated to local authorities by PHE for 2019-20 to make it easier for people to access help with alcohol problems.
The £6 million capital fund has been awarded to 23 projects and is the fourth time PHE has led a programme of supporting alcohol and drug treatment and recovery through capital funding.
Alcohol misuse costs society £21 billion each year and effective alcohol treatment can help to reduce the burden placed on health and social care services. By providing capital funding, local authorities can prioritise alcohol treatment, invest in equipment and facilities and ensure that treatment expertise is enhanced to better meet the needs of people with alcohol problems.
PHE’s treatment figures show that there are 34,000 parents in treatment for alcohol problems. 16,000 of whom live with 28,000 children. Current estimates predict that 120,000 parents with alcohol problems have 200,000 children living with them.
Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice at PHE said:
“Alcohol misuse causes significant harm to society and can tear people’s lives apart. The outstanding range of exciting and innovative local projects that we are funding will make a real difference to communities across the country, with an important focus on helping those that are most vulnerable in our society.
“We want to encourage more people, particularly parents and people sleeping rough, to access treatment by making facilities more suitable for their needs and removing the stigma around receiving treatment.”
Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. More information about this funding nationally is available here: www.gov.uk