More than half of patients with chronic liver disease have had procedures canceled or delayed due to COVID-19

The results of a new British Liver Trust patient survey reveal that more than half of patients with chronic liver disease report having had canceled or delayed procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results reflect the worrying situation many clinically extremely vulnerable patients find themselves in as the winter months approach – a time when the strain on the healthcare system is usually at its peak.

A total of 121 patients with advanced liver disease responded to the survey which was presented today at the annual scientific meeting of the British Association for the Study of the Liver.

Vanessa Hebditch, director of policy and communications at the British Liver Trust, said: “GPs and other healthcare professionals have done an incredible job during the pandemic. Unfortunately, additional pressure on the healthcare system has resulted in many procedures being canceled or delayed.

“In many cases, liver disease can be treated if caught early enough. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are therefore essential. The British Liver Trust is very concerned that these delays will lead to more preventable cases and deaths in the future. “

The survey also asked people with liver disease how their condition affects their quality of life:

  • More than two-thirds reported that liver disease affects their ability to think clearly.
  • More than half said they were told they might need a liver transplant in the future.
  • 90% of patients said they took more than one prescription drug per day.
  • Half of those surveyed said they had to take time off work for hospital appointments and 40% had to travel more than 25 miles for routine appointments.

The liver nurses at the British Liver Trust helpline hear from people with liver disease every day how their condition affects their lives. From low energy levels and memory issues, to dietary requirements, medication and even transplantation, liver problems can take a toll on the lives of patients in many ways. .

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications, British Liver Trust

The survey also found that nearly a third of patients with liver disease reported needing a platelet transfusion at some point (the standard treatment for people with a very common complication of chronic liver disease, severe thrombocytopenia) and, of these, 70% had to stay in hospital the day before treatment. Almost half (42%) said they did not feel well during or after the procedure.

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