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NHS ‘discriminates’ against liver patients


Liver disease, the only major illness with an increasing death rate, is claiming a rising number of victims because of discrimination in the NHS against sufferers, a report has found.

People suffering from liver disease caused by excessive consumption of alcohol are not being helped soon enough or referred to specialist consultants, leading to unnecessary deaths, according to the study by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcomes and Death.

Almost 9,000 people die each year from alcohol-related liver disease and the number of hospital admissions has risen 40 per cent in a decade to almost 200,000.

There is a reluctance to admit patients to intensive care as a result of “what appears to be a pessimistic or negative attitude”, says the report. In 76 cases, gravely ill patients were not admitted despite being in need of intensive care; in 52 cases – one in six of those reviewed – treatment was withdrawn. The report concluded that 32 deaths – one in 12 of those reviewed – could have been avoided.