Firstly, our NHSAPA members from across England have demonstrated their commitment to eliminating hepatitis C through their engagement with the programme. We would not have had such as successful year if it were not for their hard work and dedication. They continue to innovate, share resources and join with us to help make people’s lives better.
We have continued to work with a multitude of partners such as our valued colleagues at the Hepatitis C Trust, the Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs), the NHSE HCV Elimination team, UKHSA as well as many others. Each have played a vital role in supporting the success of our project and our shared goals.
Our joint working agreement with Gilead Sciences has allowed us to expand our team to further support testing, data and education. The Gilead Sciences led national Hepatitis C Drug Treatment Service Provider Forum (DTS Forum) has allowed us to come together with drug and alcohol organisations from across the country to collaborate on work that improves and streamlines hepatitis C interventions on a large scale. One of these pieces of work was the DTS Forum Hepatitis C Micro-Elimination Criteria. This supports each organisation in the country to use existing NDTMS data to monitor their progress towards our shared goal of micro-elimination. Another vital piece of work was the DTS Forum BBV Standards which were originally pulled together by Hep C U Later with support from representatives within GMMH and CNWL. These were later built upon in the DTS Forum. The benefit of these standards is for services to see what areas they can develop, refine, or where they may need extra support or resources to achieve them. The DTS Forum has the added benefit of joining together to unite on social media campaigns and collectively problem solve issues which may affect the quality of care which can be delivered in drug and alcohol services.
The expansion of our team to include an additional data analyst in 2022 allowed us to develop our data resources further. This has led to us further developing the dashboard on a page for each NHSAPA member, allowed us to build in processes which help services to better locate who may need a test and to resolve issues with systems which may present us with challenges such as data anomalies. The two data analysts we have in the Hep C U Later team have collaborated across the drug and alcohol sector to improve data collection, they have brought BBV leads and data leads together for data forums and have produced resources which will help staff in services to use data as effectively as possible.
Our Impact Report from April 2021-March 2022 showed the impact on testing during that period, showing that testing across NHSAPA services doubled from the previous year. From looking at the data for 2022 there is a clear upward trajectory of testing numbers from January 2022 to December 2022.
The NHSAPA services have continued to work with their partners within the ODNs and Hepatology units to improve the hepatitis C treatment pathway, with some services offering additional assessments which support people to access treatment quicker and with less appointments. We have services which complete clinics or testing/treatment days with the ODNs to ensure joined up care, others which deliver the medication to service users, and others which use vans to deliver testing, treatment and harm reduction interventions as rapidly as possible.
Inclusion Thurrock achieved micro-elimination in July 2022. The NHSAPA services continue to move closer to reaching the micro-elimination criteria with many services having very few people left to be tested and treated, making micro-elimination appear entirely reachable in 2023.
The Hep C U Later team ran webinars in 2021 and 2022, bringing together a range of people in different roles from across the country. These webinars were a way to share the excellent practice we see every day. The webinars culminated in the Hep C U Later awards, a way of saying thank you and giving recognition to the exceptional work of individuals and teams.
The Hep C U Later online practitioner’s forum brought practitioners together to focus on specific areas of hepatitis C related work and the opportunity to discuss how we can support each other as a sector. Our practitioner’s forum has recommenced as of January 2023 with a focus on the micro-elimination criteria and how to we can get closer to achieving our targets.
The additional funding provided by Gilead Sciences in years 4 and 5 also allowed us to employ a training and development coordinator who has been instrumental in delivering bespoke hepatitis C training, Cepheid GeneXpert training and supporting testing events up and down the country.
The Hep C U Later team have been privileged to present at a multitude of conferences in 2022 including INHSU, HCV Action, Gilead Sciences Elimination conference and UKPHR. We have had a number of posters displayed at conferences both with the NHSAPA members, ODNs and the DTS Forum. Additionally we have been shortlisted for many awards with our partners (HSJ and UKPHR) which is a recognition of our collective achievements so far.
Our social media campaign has continued to grow from strength to strength. Our Facebook following continues to grow and in the last year our Twitter following has more than doubled. We have seen increased engagement with the content on our website and have plans to develop the content event further in 2023.
We have continued to release blogs and newsletters to keep people up to date, discussing key issues and showcasing the outstanding work we see across the NHS Trusts which form the NHSAPA.
We have a great year planned and will launch the NHSAPA Love Yourself Get Tested Roadshow in February. Our aim is to continue to help multiple services to reach micro-elimination over the coming year.
We hope to release resources which will support services in achieving micro-elimination such as the dashboard on a page guide, a video on how to use ‘assessed as not appropriate to offer’, a stigma toolkit and a document on how to engage people in testing. The practitioner forum will continue to run to enable a space for our partners to bring issues and solutions so we can all benefit and continually improve the care we deliver.
The Hep C U Later team is committed to improving the harm reduction offer in drug and alcohol services and are looking forward to continuing to play a part in the national needle and syringe provision work which is currently underway.
Inclusion (part of Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) have been commissioned by NHSE to provide an additional Hep C U Later initiative specifically around engagement and communications with key priority areas. This not only is the beginning of a new and exciting piece of work for the team but also provides an additional benefit to our collective goal of elimination. As part of this work our website will be improved with new resources, videos, best practice examples and links added in 2023.
We have much to consider in 2023 as our existing Hep C U Later work in drug services draws to a close in March 2024. The team will start to plan what each service may need to ensure they can continue to champion, test, treat and monitor their hepatitis C work so that micro-elimination can be maintained as part of the legacy of the project.
As we come into the full final year we want to say a thank you to all of our exceptional partners across the country, together we have achieved so much over the last few years. We would like to extend our gratitude to those Trusts, organisations and individuals who have given so much time, energy and commitment to eliminating hepatitis C. They do this under great pressure, giving extra on top of extra. Together, we will continue that same commitment to provide the best care possible for people who are at risk of hepatitis C in 2023.
The following documents referenced in this blog can be found by visiting: Resources – HEP C u later