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Improvement in access to Scotland’s liver services to be shaped by new SHARP surveys

Improvement in access to Scotland’s liver services to be shaped by new SHARP surveys

22nd December 2023

The Scottish Hepatology Access Research Partnership (SHARP) has announced that it is running three new surveys targeted at different groups in a bid to gain vital insights into access to liver services across Scotland

The surveys only take a few minutes to complete and are specifically aimed at engaging:

The hope is that the combined data and insights gathered from each of these groups will form a more complete picture of liver service in Scotland to identify barriers to accessing liver services and inform future research.

Led by Dr Ruairi Lynch from Dundee and Prof Ewan Forrest from Glasgow, SHARP was established in early 2023 and is spotlighting issues relating to the accessibility of liver services for those at risk of developing liver disease as well as those who already have liver disease.

SHARP is the first hepatology project funded by The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) that is based solely in Scotland.

This country-wide initiative brings together specialists in liver disease, public health specialists, nurses, general practitioners, social care services, alcohol and drug partnerships, charities, and patients.

Dr Lynch said: “It is hugely important that we listen to patients’ and clinicians’ voices in order to better understand the challenges in accessing liver care in Scotland.

“We are therefore looking for data to be provided by patients, primary care, and secondary care through these surveys that will help us to identify what barriers there are to accessing liver services and how we can break down them down.

“Death rates from liver disease in Scotland are among the highest in the world with alcohol-related deaths currently at their highest level in 14 years, so research on why that is the case is vital – these surveys represent a key starting point.”

He added: “A further challenge is access to healthcare services – particularly in remote and rural populations, and in areas with higher levels of social deprivation.

“But with more information provided by patients, their families, and carers – in addition to the views of clinicians – we can help to address these issues and put in place the right studies, interventions, and support to make improvements in care.”

Professor Ewan Forrest, Consultant Hepatologist and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Research Scotland Hepatology Clinical Lead, and Co-lead for SHARP, said: “We want everyone taking part in these surveys to feel valued and included.

“I urge all of those affected by liver disease – whether family, friends, carers, or clinicians – to complete the survey and ensure their voice is heard.”

A multidisciplinary national network has been established to address the issues around limited access and unmet clinical need in remote/rural and urban populations.

Regular meetings of the partnership Management and Advisory groups have led to the development of potential research work streams. The first of these, understanding access to liver services in Scotland as they currently stand, will be followed by:

  • New technologies to monitor liver disease
  • Detection of those at risk of liver diseae
  • Recognition of factors affecting engagement with liver services

Read more about SHARP and complete the surveys on the links below:

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