New partnership to eliminate hepatitis C in London kicks off at City Hall

Kick off reception for Routemap to Eliminate Hepatitis C in London

02.03.20: Today, charities, doctors, nurses, addictions specialists, peer support workers and public health leads from across London are coming together to kick off plans for a ‘Routemap to eliminating hepatitis C in London’. This will set the direction for London to become the first global city to eliminate hepatitis C, ahead of the World Health Organization’s target of 2030.

Hepatitis C affects over 14,000 Londoners, many of whom will be living with the virus unaware. Hepatitis C can cause liver disease and cancer unless treated (curative tablet treatments are now available) and disproportionately affects some of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in London.

The Mayor of London is supporting the Routemap to hepatitis C elimination as part of his commitment to reducing health inequalities in the capital. The Routemap brings a wide range of health professionals, local government and charities together from across the city to join up and improve initiatives to find and treat anyone at risk of hepatitis C, and to support anyone living with the virus through treatment.

The Routemap is being coordinated by the London Joint Working Group of Substance Use and Hepatitis C and led by a steering group of leaders from across different health and care sectors in London. Today the group published ‘Routemap to eliminating hepatitis C in London: The Opportunity’, which details the key areas where the partnership plans to make progress.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Every Londoner deserves access to quality healthcare and this Routemap will – for the first time – unite key partners in the fight against this damaging but treatable disease.

“Only by working together can we succeed in eliminating hepatitis C in London, creating a healthier city for us all.”

Dr Emily Finch, Co-Chair of the LJWG and Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In the last ten years we have seen incredible progress in hepatitis C care, driven by national bodies, local organisations and individuals. The support of the Mayor of London is a fantastic boost to efforts to eliminate hepatitis C in the capital. For London to have a future without hepatitis C is a very exciting prospect.”

Cary James, Chief Executive of the World Hepatitis Alliance, said: “Cities have an absolutely vital role to play in the fight against hepatitis C globally. This new Routemap establishes London as a leader in the field and could enable London to be the first city in the world to eliminate this cruel disease. The London elimination effort can become an example of best practice to be replicated in cities around the world.”

Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: “The people who hepatitis C primarily affects, including people who inject drugs, people in prison, people experiencing homelessness and migrants, by nature of their situation often sit outside the healthcare system. Outreach services, peer workers and cross-organisation working are therefore essential if we are to engage people living with hepatitis C. We now have a phenomenal opportunity to eliminate hepatitis C in London and across the UK, as long as we work together and cement a system that works for patients.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Public Health, London Borough of Southwark and Co-Chair of Fast-Track Cities London, said: “HIV and hepatitis C remain major public health concerns in London, with both infections having a persistent and disproportionate effect on some of the city’s most vulnerable communities.

“Excellent progress is now being made in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and control of these infections, reflecting the hard work of local communities, clinical teams, the voluntary sector, local authorities and the NHS. However, if we are to end their transmission in the next decade, we need to do things differently and at scale. This means working in innovative partnerships, strengthening our outreach and testing programmes, and maximising opportunities for collaboration and integration.

“There is much to learn from our past successes in controlling both HIV and hepatitis C, and even more to gain by working together moving forward.”

Download the document here: ‘Routemap to eliminating hepatitis C in London: The Opportunity‘.