The results of a new patient survey by the British Liver Trust reveal that over half of chronic liver disease patients say they’ve had procedures cancelled or delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
The findings reflect the worrying situation that many clinically extremely vulnerable patients find themselves in as we head into the winter months – a time when pressure on the healthcare system is typically at its highest.
A total of 121 patients with advanced liver disease completed the survey which was presented today at the British Association for the Study of the Liver Annual Scientific Meeting.
Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust, says: ‘GPs and other healthcare professionals have been doing an incredible job during the pandemic. Unfortunately, extra pressure on the healthcare system has led to many procedures being cancelled or delayed.
‘In many cases, liver disease can be treated if caught early enough, so early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are vital. The British Liver Trust is very concerned that these delays will lead to more cases and more avoidable deaths in the future.’
The survey also asked people with liver disease about how their condition affects their quality of life:
- More than two-thirds reported that liver disease affects their ability to think clearly.
- Over half said they have been told they may need a liver transplant in the future.
- 90% of patients said they were taking more than one prescription medication a day.
- Half of respondents said they had to take time off work for hospital appointments and 40% had to travel more than 25 miles for routine appointments.
Vanessa adds: ‘The liver nurses on the British Liver Trust’s helpline hear from people with liver disease every day about how their condition affects their lives. From low energy levels and memory issues, to dietary requirements, medication and even transplant – having a liver conditions can take a toll on patients’ lives in so many different ways.’
The survey also found that almost a third of liver disease patients said they needed a platelet transfusion at some time (the standard treatment for people with a very common complication of chronic liver disease, severe thrombocytopenia) and, of those, 70% had to stay in hospital the night before the treatment. Nearly half (42%) said they felt unwell during or after the procedure.