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Clin Med (Lond). 2007 Apr;7(2):119-24.

Hepatology outpatient service provision in secondary care: a study of liver disease incidence and resource costs.

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Department of Gastrohepatology, West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds.


This paper discusses the annual incidence of liver disease and resource costs in providing a hepatology service for all new outpatient referrals to a secondary care setting. In a retrospective study, we found that 200 patients (1 in 1,000 of the West Suffolk population) with a mean age of 52 years were referred per year. One-third of patients had cirrhosis (almost half due to alcohol). Annual incidence (per 100,000 population) were as follows: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (29: of which 23.5 non-cirrhotic and 5.5 cirrhotic), hepatitis C (25), hepatitis B (3), alcohol-related cirrhosis (12.5), primary biliary cirrhosis (3.5), autoimmune hepatitis (3), primary sclerosing cholangitis (2), haemochromatosis (2), hepatocellular carcinoma (1.5) and oesophageal variceal haemorrhage (6.5). Using national indicative tariffs, the total annual hepatology budget was 130K pounds (58K pounds for resources and 72K pounds for clinic attendances). The greatest resource expenditure was on endoscopy (almost half for oesophageal varices) and radiological imaging (one-third of the total budget). These findings will help inform commissioners in hepatology service funding.

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