Public Health England has launched Liver Disease Profiles data revealing significant variations in liver disease morbidity and mortality across the country.
Liver disease is one of the leading causes of premature mortality in England. It is the only major cause of mortality and morbidity which is on the increase, whilst it is decreasing in the rest of Europe.
Over 90% of liver disease is due to 3 main preventable and treatable risk factors: alcohol, hepatitis B and C, and obesity. Alcohol alone accounts for 37% of liver disease deaths.
Comparisons between county and unitary authorities expose a stark north-south divide in the both the hospital admissions and death rates for alcoholic liver disease per 100,000 population. This is best demonstrated when arranging the five lowest admissions rates for alcoholic liver disease alongside the five highest rates in the country (see Figure 1 below).
Figure 1: Hospital admission rate for alcoholic liver disease, County/Unitary Authority, England, 2012/13
Figure 1 shows that the lowest hospital admissions rates for alcoholic liver disease are almost entirely situated in the south of England, whereas the highest rates are predominately based in the north-west, although Sunderland (72.73 per 100,000) in the north-east has the single highest admissions rate for alcoholic liver disease in the entire country.
There are also pronounced differences between regions over mortality rates from alcoholic liver disease (see Figure 2 below).
Figure 2: Under 75 mortality rate from alcoholic liver disease, County/Unitary Authority, England, 2010–12
Figure 2 tells a similar tale; between 2010 and 2012, the lowest rate of deaths from alcoholic liver disease occurred mainly in the southern parts of the country extending only as far north as Oxfordshire and Rutland in Leicestershire (0.95 per 100,000). In contrast, the highest rate of deaths from alcoholic liver disease were mainly located in north-west and north-east regions of the country, stretching only as far south as the Midlands (Nottingham and Sandwell).
Professor Julia Verne, Lead for Liver Disease at Public Health England, said: “Liver disease is a public health priority because young lives are being needlessly lost. We must do more to raise awareness, nationally and locally, and this is why it is so important for the public and health professionals to understand their local picture.”