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Liver Disease A&E Trips Highest in England

New NHS figures show around 26 in 100,000 people registered in England required urgent medical care as a result of alcohol-related liver disease last year.

Regionally there are significant variations with 46 people in 100,000 being treated with the disease in Blackburn and 28 people for every 100,000 people registered in Dorset being treated.

Judi Rhys, CEO of the British Liver trust, has called on GPs to improve their awareness of the risk of factors.

She said: “Liver disease is a silent killer because there are often no obvious symptoms in the early stages.

“We know that at the moment three quarters of people are diagnosed in a hospital setting when the condition is quite advanced.

“General practitioners need to understand how to interpret the results of blood tests and clear pathways need to be commissioned so that they know who to refer and how to refer.

“There has also been an exponential increase in the supply of low price alcohol to the public with a growing range of cheap drink promotions in shops.

“More people drink at home and more people drink wine and spirits which have a much higher alcohol content.

“A common myth is that you have to be an alcoholic to damage your liver. The term alcoholic is misleading as alcohol dependency is a spectrum and more than one in five people in the UK currently drink alcohol in way that could harm their liver.”

The NHS says alcohol-related liver disease doesn’t usually cause any symptoms until the liver has been severely damaged.

When that happens symptoms can include feeling sick, weight loss, loss of appetite and yellowing of the eyes and skin.

In 2014, the Lancet commission on alcohol-related liver diseases estimated that alcohol-related health problems are costing the NHS £3.5 billion a year.

The figures have led to calls for minimum unit pricing for alcohol, as was imposed in Scotland in May.

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