Two Turning Point treatment services – Oxfordshire Roads to Recovery and Slough Treatment, Advice & Recovery Team (START) – have achieved micro-elimination of hepatitis C.
To achieve micro-elimination status, the services had to meet three criteria set out by the NHS. Every person accessing the services had to have been offered a hepatitis C test; 90 per cent of those had to be tested within the last 12 months; and of those diagnosed with hep C, 90 per cent had to have started treatment.
NHS England has set targets for micro-elimination as part of its goal to eliminate hep C as a major public health threat in the UK by 2025 – five years ahead of the World Health Organization’s global goal of 2030.
The strategy aims to tackle hep C on a national level through local initiatives, ensuring people are diagnosed and given access to treatment. Injecting drug use continues to be the leading risk factor for hep C infection in the UK.
Andy Symons, senior operations manager at Turning Point’s Oxfordshire Roads to Recovery service, said, ‘We are incredibly proud to achieve hep C micro-elimination in Oxfordshire ahead of the NHS England target of 2025.
‘Our wonderful collaboration with the John Radcliffe Hepatology Department and the Hepatitis C Trust has successfully treated over 250 people within drug treatment services, enabling life extending treatment, saving lives and protecting communities in Oxfordshire.’
START nurse Kirsty Sachs played a key role in achieving micro-elimination in Slough. She worked closely with teams from the Hepatitis C Trust, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to both increase testing and help those who tested positive to engage with treatment. Sachs was recognised for her work at Turning Point’s national Nursing Awards earlier this year.
START’s senior operations manager Alison Finlay said of Sachs, ‘I am so proud of the team for this achievement and, in particular, of Kirsty who has been instrumental to this success. I am also delighted for all our clients who are now successfully clear of hep C.’
Tim, a service user from Oxfordshire who recently found out he was clear of hep C, said of his experience, ‘I have cleared my hep C after being positive for the last 10 years, which is great.
‘My Turning Point worker Michael has been fantastic. I was given hep C meds twice before, but was too scared to take them. Michael gave me the confidence to take them; he came to my house every day to encourage me to stick at it and I am so pleased to be given the all the clear – it has changed my life.’