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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK
Change urged after Hep C reports
Vials of blood
England was criticised for the treatment of the blood-borne virus
Scotland must learn from the mistakes made in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C in England and Wales, according to campaigners.

The call coincides with two reports that reveal a "worrying postcode lottery of care" south of the border.

Chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, Charles Gore, called on policy-makers to seize the opportunity and reverse the "spiralling epidemic".

The Scottish Executive said an action plan was due to be published in August.

The all-party parliamentary hepatology group at Westminster found 92% of 191 primary care trusts had failed to fully implement a 2004 Department of Health action plan to tackle the disease.

We have an opportunity to avoid, not just the unnecessary deaths of thousands, but also a financial crisis for the NHS
Charles Gore
Hepatitis C Trust

Its report said hepatitis C care in England and Wales "depends on where you live - it is a matter of chance" and added that lives were being put at risk because of the failures.

There are thought to be around 50,000 people with hepatitis C in Scotland - more than the national average.

The Scottish Executive said it currently provided 8.6m of annual funding to help prevent the disease.

A spokesman said: "We are working with NHS Health Scotland and Health Protection Scotland on the development of educational materials to support awareness raising of hepatitis C.

"Also, NHS Education for Scotland is assessing the training needs of health professionals in relation to hepatitis C to ensure they have the best skills and knowledge for caring for patients.

"Our proposed Hepatitis C action plan sets out issues and actions for dealing with hepatitis C such as reducing transmission among injecting drug users and offering more diagnosis and support to people with hepatitis C."

Mr Gore said: "We have an opportunity to avoid not just the unnecessary deaths of thousands, but also a financial crisis for the NHS.

"If we do not seize this opportunity, we will look back and know that by our inaction we let it happen."


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