MPs invited to get their livers checked by researchers

18 January 2023 - King’s liver research team collaborated with The British Liver Trust to raise awareness about the importance of liver health in Parliament

Louie French, MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup, and Professor Debbie Shawcross

January is Love Your Liver Month! Hosted by the British Liver Trust, the campaign is devoted to health awareness and helping people understand how to keep their livers healthy.

King’s College Hospital is at the forefront of liver research and treatment. To celebrate Love Your Liver month, Professor Shawcross and other colleagues from the liver research team collaborated with the British Liver Trust on a Check your Liver Health event for some members of Parliament (MPs) at Portcullis House.

The event, which took place on 17th January 2023, aimed to raise awareness of liver disease and cancer with MPs, peers and parliamentary staff and promote policy messaging. The event focused on updating MPs on the ‘Make Early Diagnosis of Liver Disease Routine’ Campaign, which was launched in parliament in April 2022. The campaign was launched to drive public awareness of the liver disease crisis and tackle severe disparities in early diagnosis, treatment outcomes and variations in care across the UK by influencing the commissioning of liver detection, management, and care at a primary care level. Finding liver disease earlier will need GPs and primary care nurses to look for it in their patients proactively. To achieve this, there need to be clear guidelines and full patient care pathways for the early diagnosis and management of liver disease.

The event, sponsored by the Health and Social Care Select Committee and All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), allowed MPs to better understand the campaign and policy calls by learning about their liver health. Parliamentarians, their staff and other invitees were given the opportunity to take a liver health screener and non-invasive liver scan (Fibroscan), as well as learn more about other campaigns and policy work to improve early diagnosis and health outcomes for liver disease and liver cancer patients across the UK.

Professor Debbie Shawcross, Professor of Hepatology and Chronic Liver Failure at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are facing a liver disease crisis across the UK, with the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing the number of people dying from alcohol-related problems reaching a new high in 2021, up 27% from 2019 and 7% since 2020. 90% of liver disease is preventable, and alcohol and obesity drive the increase.

"Liver disease usually has no symptoms in the early stages. If caught at an early stage, liver damage can often be reversed. Sadly, however, three-quarters of people diagnosed with liver cirrhosis are found when it is too late for effective intervention or treatment. Liver disease is also the biggest risk factor for liver cancer.

"The principal objective of the 'Check your liver health' ran by The British Liver Trust event at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, 17th January, is to raise awareness of liver disease and liver cancer with MPs and to promote the campaign to rollout full patient care pathways for early diagnosis and management of liver disease across all Integrated Care Boards, Health Boards and Trusts.

"There is no better way to promote this message than undertaking liver checks on MPs by undertaking a liver health screen and performing a liver Fibroscan which is a quick and non-invasive measure of liver health. We hope this event will engage MPs, Peers and parliamentary staff and promote the 'make an early diagnosis of liver disease' campaign – she added."

For information and support on improving your liver health, visit the British Liver Trust's website.