Meetings

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday 22nd October 2019

Parliamentarians

Sir David Amess MP (Co-Chair)

Baroness Randerson (Co-Chair)

Baroness Masham of Ilton (Co-Chair)

External guests

Professor John Wass – Royal College of Physicians

Caroline Cerny – Alliance Lead, Obesity Health Alliance

Mark Woodrow – Assistant to Sir David Amess MP

Pamela Healy – CEO, British Liver Trust

Tony McClure – Prison Peer Educator, The Hepatitis C Trust

Imran Shaukat – Peer Support Lead, The Hepatitis C Trust

Aidan Rylatt – Policy and Parliamentary Adviser, The Hepatitis C Trust

Iona Casley – Policy and Parliamentary Adviser, The Hepatitis C Trust

Noah Froud – Policy and Parliamentary Adviser, The Hepatitis C Trust

1. Welcome and introductions (Sir David Amess, Co-Chair)

Sir David Amess MP welcomed the attendees.

2. Obesity and liver health (Professor John Wass, Royal College of Physicians and Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead, Obesity Health Alliance)

Professor John Wass from the Royal College of Physicians provided an overview of the links between obesity and liver health. Liver damage is a little-recognised consequence of obesity but non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the second most common cause of liver transplants after alcohol. Obesity-related liver damage is a rising problem among young people, with diagnoses of type 2 diabetes increasingly common among children.

Prof Wass highlighted that genetics play a crucial role in determining obesity and evidence shows that some people are more disposed to thinking excessively about food. Solutions must also recognise that psychology and stigma are important factors. Prof Wass highlighted the recent Chief Medical Officer report on childhood obesity, which contains strong and welcome recommendations for action.

Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead for the Obesity Health Alliance, then spoke about some of the policy changes OHA members are calling for, including restrictions on junk food promotional offers in supermarkets and a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts. A recent study showed that 20% of adverts aired during Britain’s Got Talent, which is highly popular amongst children, were for junk food, compared with just 2% for fruit and vegetables. More fiscal measures are also required – the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has led to a 29% reduction in sugar in drinks, whereas voluntary measures led to only a 3% change. It was noted that many positive policies were contained in Chapter 2 of the Government’s Obesity Plan but progress with implementing these policies seems to have stalled.

3. Peer support for hepatitis C patients (Tony McClure, Prison Peer Educator, The Hepatitis C Trust and Imran Shaukat, Peer Support Lead, The Hepatitis C Trust)

The meeting next heard from two members of The Hepatitis C Trust’s peer support team, who explained their roles and how the peer-to-peer support model works. Tony McClure works in prisons, whilst Imran Shaukat works in community settings, such as substance misuse services, homeless day centres etc. Both use their own lived experience of hepatitis C to engage with people who are more likely to be affected by hepatitis C (such as people in prison, people who inject drugs, the South Asian community). This shared lived experience helps peer support workers to engage with individuals who may be less likely to engage with healthcare professionals.

The Hepatitis C Trust’s peer support workers provide support to people across the entire care pathway, delivering awareness-raising talks (including training to staff, such as prison guards), encouraging and facilitating testing and supporting people to access treatment. Peer support workers also support volunteer peers to deliver their own awareness-raising talks, which is both an effective means of sharing information about hepatitis C and helps individuals volunteering as peers on their recovery/rehabilitation journey. Finding those with an undiagnosed infection of hepatitis C and supporting them to access treatment is absolutely crucial in reaching the goal of eliminating hepatitis C, thereby removing a cause of avoidable liver disease.

4. AOB

No other business was raised.

Minutes of meeting held on Wednesday 15th May 2019

Parliamentarians

Sir David Amess MP (Co-Chair)

Baroness Masham of Ilton (Co-Chair)

External guests

Aidan Rylatt – Policy and Parliamentary Adviser, The Hepatitis C Trust

Alex Worrell – Parliamentary Assistant to Jeff Smith MP

Prof Ashley Brown – Hepatitis C Operational Delivery Network Clinical Lead for West London

Clive Henn – Alcohol Lead, Public Health England

Dee Cunniffe – Policy Strategy Facilitator, London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C

Iona Casley – Policy and Parliamentary Adviser, The Hepatitis C Trust

Joseph Cox – Secretariat, Hepatitis C Coalition

Kieran Bunn – Public Policy and Advocacy Assistant, Alcohol Health Alliance

Mark Woodrow – Assistant to Sir David Amess MP

Natasha Buckham – Research and Policy Officer, Alcohol Change UK

Prof Nick Sheron – Co-founder, Alcohol Health Alliance UK; Head of Clinical Hepatology, University of Southampton

Pamela Healy – CEO, British Liver Trust

Rachel Halford – CEO, The Hepatitis C Trust

Richard Fernandes – Head of Policy, Institute of Alcohol Studies

Sarah Schoenberger – Policy and Advocacy Manager, Alcohol Health Alliance

Vanessa Hebditch – Director of Policy and Communications, British Liver Trust

1. Welcome and introductions (Sir David Amess, Co-Chair)

Sir David Amess MP welcomed the attendees.

2. Update on the NHS England hepatitis C elimination deal (Prof Ashley Brown, ODN Clinical Lead, West London Hepatitis C ODN; Vice Chair, Hepatitis C Coalition)

Prof Brown updated the group on the NHS England hepatitis C elimination deal which has recently been officially announced. While this development was welcomed, Ashley warned that we need to keep the pressure on the government to achieve elimination. Various methods were discussed, in particular calling for a Government-backed written elimination strategy; funding a hepatitis C awareness campaign; testing initiatives targeting certain demographics, such as women who gave birth in the 1950s who may have received blood products infected with hepatitis C through the NHS; and the development of anonymised home testing.

In addition, concerns were raised regarding regulatory barriers to delivering hepatitis C treatment through community pharmacies, which presents challenges to accessing treatment for those who have difficulty engaging with secondary care services. The group agreed that further exploration is needed into the possibility of dispensing treatment from community pharmacies and Sir David Amess agreed to write to the Public Health Minister to request a meeting to discuss what can be done.

3. Update on alcohol policy (Prof Nick Sheron, Co-founder, Alcohol Health Alliance UK; Head of Clinical Hepatology, University of Southampton)

Prof Sheron presented recent figures on liver disease and alcohol consumption which indicate a close link between liver-related mortality and the availability of very low cost alcohol. The presentation highlighted the case for tackling problem drinking by increasing the price of strong and very cheap alcohol. The group discussed the potential for introducing minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which has been introduced in Scotland and will shortly be introduced in Wales, as well as the marketing of drinks and how harmful this can be, particularly for young people.

It was highlighted that the last alcohol strategy was in 2012, and while the Government said it would consider publishing a new strategy last year, none has yet emerged. Sir David Amess agreed to write to the Public Health Minister to ask whether the Government would consider introducing minimum unit pricing.

4. Any other business

No other business was raised.