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UHBW supports Hepatitis C micro-elimination status at HMP Leyhill

Last updated: 27/09/2021

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) has helped secure Hepatitis C micro-elimination status at HMP Leyhill.

In line with NHS England’s plan to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025, a multi-agency Hepatitis C High Intensity Test and Treat (HITT) event took place within HMP Leyhill.

The HITT event took place between May 17 and May 21 led by a team consisting of Hanham Secure Health (HSH), the Hepatitis C Trust, Bristol and Severn Operational Delivery Network (ODN) and HMPPS, supported by HMP Leyhill Hepatitis C Trust prison peer volunteers and UHBW. 

NHS England has set out guidelines defining what targets need to be achieved, before a prison can announce that they have micro-eliminated. They are:

  • Over 95% of the prison population is tested in the last 12 months
  • Over 90% of residents who test positive for Hepatitis C are commenced on treatment
  • A process is in place for quarterly review of uptake of testing, reception testing and a recognised need for an assertive approach to opt-out testing for Hepatitis C

Over the course of the week, over 97% of the prison population were screened for Hepatitis C antibodies using mouth swabs and every person taking part was offered a brief educational session about the transmission risks and how to stay safe, and informed of the highly effective course of treatment that is now available.

UHBW’s Lead Hepatitis C Virus nurse Jane Gitahi, said: “We were proud to be involved with this first High Intensity Test & Treat (HITT) within our region, and delighted with the micro-elimination status awarded by National Health Service England (NHSE).

“This event demonstrated excellent partnership working between the prison teams, the Bristol and Severn ODN, and the Hep C Trust.”

Dr Fiona Gordon, Bristol and Severn’s Hepatitis C ODN Clinic Lead, said: “The teams worked incredibly hard to overcome the limitations of COVID-19 to achieve this result. We will continue to strive to eliminate Hepatitis C infection throughout our local prisons.”

Viki Lamb, Managing Director of HSH added: “Having started my prison health career in HMP Leyhill some years ago, it was a particularly proud moment to have Hanham Secure Health leading this HITT event to such success.

“The collaboration between all parties involved should be highlighted as a leading example of just how effective we can be when we pull together for the greater good of those in our care.

“A special acknowledgement to Kat Wolf, our BBV Lead, for the hours of planning and coordination she put into making this day happen and her unwavering commitment to the elimination of Hepatitis C. Well done, Kat!”

Left untreated, Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which has an increased risk of liver cancer.

In recent years, Public Health England estimated that around 118,000 people are chronically infected with Hepatitis C in the UK - around half of these are unaware of their infection.

The disease, which can go undetected until the liver becomes damaged, can now be successfully cured in weeks using new oral tablets.