Minister commends LJWG ‘innovative’ pharmacy testing pilot in debate on eliminating hepatitis C

Today the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health, Sir David Amess MP, held a debate on the steps that need to be taken to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health issue in the UK.

The LJWG is delighted that the Minister for Public Health and Primary Care, Steve Brine MP, spoke in his response about the potential of the LJWG’s hepatitis C pharmacy testing pilot.

Steve Brine MP said:  As hon. Members know, I have a great soft spot for community pharmacies, and I think that they can and do play an important role in this space. In April, I hopped along to Portmans Pharmacy, which is just up the road in Pimlico, to see the pharmacy testing pilot of the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C that is going on there. I saw the testing and the referral to treatment that takes place in pharmacies that offer needle and syringe programmes across six boroughs in London. 

Portmans Pharmacy has provided a needle and syringe programme and the supervised consumption of methadone for a number of years. Those points of contact with people who inject, or previously injected—a key distinction—drugs provide an ideal opportunity for us to make every contact count and to test for hepatitis C, as we think that about half of people who inject drugs in London have the virus. 

The approach of Portmans Pharmacy and the London Joint Working Group is innovative. It aims to provide quick and easy access to testing and a clear pathway into assessment and treatment in specialist care, which is obviously critical. I pay great tribute to the work that the group has done. It has rightly received a lot of coverage and a lot of plaudits. I am anxious and impatient—as my officials know, I am impatient about everything—to see the peer-reviewed results of that work and where we can scale it out more.

The full text of the debate is online here:

You can watch the full debate here: