North Mid introduces routine hepatitis testing

Edmonton hospital ‘leading the way’ in blood testing of patients

North Middlesex Hospital
North Middlesex University Hospital

North Middlesex University Hospital has introduced “life saving” routine testing for hepatitis B and C for all A&E patients.

The new testing programme designed to detect blood borne viruses (BBVs) launched this week at the Edmonton hospital. The tests will detect patients living with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or both, and will be part of the routine blood tests patients attending the A&E department receive.

It means North Mid is one of the only hospitals in London to now be routinely testing all adults in A&E for HIV, hepatitis B and C.

The new hepatitis B and C pilot will utilise the existing infrastructure of the HIV testing pilot, which has since been made permanent in North Mid’s A&E. The successful pilot identified 23 patients unknowingly living with HIV who would otherwise have had a delay in diagnosis.

North Mid serves a local population with a “very high” prevalence of hepatitis B. In 2016, the hospital had the fourth-highest number of reports for the virus out of all London hospitals, with London itself having the highest rate of acute hepatitis B infections in the UK.

The introduction of routine testing is expected to increase early diagnosis rates in Enfield and Haringey, reducing morbidity and mortality and contributing to improving the healthy life expectancy of the population served by North Mid.

It will also provide additional opportunities to detect hepatitis C as 80% patients are asymptomatic and more than 80% go on to develop chronic infections and liver related complications.

Patients that are found to have either virus will then then receive long-term support from clinicians at North Mid.

Dr Emily Cheserem, consultant in sexual health and HIV at North Mid, said:
“Introducing routine testing for hepatitis B and C allows us, as a hospital, to target both viruses which affect our local community.

“Early detection of the viruses is key as patients are commonly unaware of their disease until complications and health problems in later life. It’s a fantastic move for North Mid and will mirror the success of our existing A&E HIV testing programme.”