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A service offering support for people with Hepatitis C has been shortlisted for a national Health Service Journal Patient Safety Award.

Inclusion provides drug, alcohol and psychological services and is part of South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Inclusion has been shortlisted in the Quality Improvement Initiative of the Year category which recognises an outstanding quality improvement initiative. The nomination highlighted treatment pathways, support and innovation developed within Incusions Hampshire and Buckinghamshire drug and alcohol services as part of Inclusion’s commitment to contribute to the elimination of Hepatitis C.

With an estimated 200,000 people living with Hepatitis C across England and fewer than 12,000 people diagnosed (less than 10,000 treated in 2015) Inclusion recognised that testing/treatment was poorly perceived, heavily stigmatised and difficult to access.

Working in partnership with local health services the teams developed access to uncomplicated, convenient and compassionate testing/treatment across Hampshire and Buckinghamshire, underpinned, supported and co-delivered by people who themselves have personal experience of Hepatitis.

This innovative approach has resulted in an improved uptake of treatment and reduced both the potential complications of chronic liver disease, and potential future infections/reinfections. The service has significantly increased the uptake of testing at an earlier time (improvement of up to 100% in some sites) and is significantly reducing the physical, emotional and financial cost of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), specifically saving up-to £80,000 per transplant and up-to £6,000 annual follow-on costs for immune-suppressants, without taking into consideration the associated health and social care costs or the personal cost of supporting those who are too sick to receive any form of treatment.

The team will be presenting their initiative to a panel of judges in May before the awards ceremony in Manchester in July.