Deaths from chronic liver disease soar by almost 25% in Wales

Deaths from chronic liver disease have surged in Wales. Credit: PA Images

Premature deaths from chronic liver disease in Wales have surged by almost 25% in the last two years.  

A debate will be held in the Senedd on Wednesday to discuss what actions need to be taken to curb the crisis.

It comes as data shows that deaths from chronic liver disease have more than doubled over the past 20 years.

In November, the Welsh Government published a Quality Statement for Liver Disease, setting out its plans to improve early detection and prevention of liver disease in Wales.According to the British Liver Trust, 90% of liver disease is preventable and, if caught at an early stage, can often be reversed.

But three quarters of people diagnosed with cirrhosis are found when it is too late for effective intervention or treatment. 

One in four people diagnosed late in hospital will die within a couple of months, the trust said.

Excessive alcohol consumption and obesity remain the most common causes of liver disease in Wales, according to the Welsh Government.

Alcohol and substance misuse services are among the "key areas of collaboration", say the Welsh Government Credit: PA

Joel James, Member of the Senedd for South Wales Central and Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Liver Disease and Liver Cancer, said: "The Government needs to prioritise liver disease and ensure their new approach, announced in November, does not undo the good work in progress.

"We are calling for a doubling of the hepatology workforce, better earlier detection, and more Alcohol Care Teams in hospitals to help those in critical need of support." 

Liver disease is the third leading cause of premature death and more than one in five of us are at risk of developing the condition.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said they are "committed" to ensuring that our health services focus on prevention of liver disease.

"Our actions include increasing funding to prevent substance misuse, we've introduced a minimum unit price for alcohol and we're investing over £13m to help reduce and prevent obesity," the spokesman said.

"We are also working with health boards to develop high quality liver disease services over the next decade, to deliver better outcomes on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of liver disease in Wales."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.