LANCASHIRE has the most cases of hepatitis C in England, and yet health and wellbeing boards do little to prioritise the virus, say health experts.

Calls for health and wellbeing boards to prioritise hepatitis C to tackle rising hospital admissions and deaths from the virus have been made following findings that the prioritisation of the virus is ‘shockingly low’.

Lancashire has more than 5,653 cases of hepatitis C, a condition that infects and damages the liver.

Current treatments can cure the virus in around 70 per cent of patients and new treatments that are expected to be approved within the next year or two have cure rates of over 90 per cent.

But a report from HCV Action shows that hospital admissions and deaths from the virus are rising, constituting a serious public health issue.

Charles Gore, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust said: “We are, for the first time, in a position to eliminate hepatitis C from England with new treatment options available.

“With hospital admissions and deaths from hepatitis C rising and a clear national ambition to decrease deaths from liver disease, addressing hepatitis C should be a key priority area.

“Health and wellbeing boards need to assess the situation and to prioritise diagnosing and treating patients in their area.”

The report shows that 52 per cent of boards in England fail to mention hepatitis C at all within their Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNA).

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “Hepatitis C is an important health issue and we are working with our partners to address this in Lancashire.

“The information has been left off our JSNA in error and we will look to resolve it as soon as possible.”