Consultant named Governments first “tsar” for liver disease

Dr Martin Lombard of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals has been appointed National Clinical Director for Liver Disease. Dr Lombard, a Consultant Hepatologist, will take up the new role on 18 January, leading the development of a National Liver Strategy for England. The strategy will bring together NHS services and builds on the Department of Health’s commitment to tackle the growing levels of liver disease.

Liver disease is now one of the most common causes of death in England and if action is not taken to combat the disease, it could overtake stroke and coronary heart disease as a cause of death within the next 10 to 20 years.  The growth in liver disease is largely fuelled by lifestyle factors such as excessive drinking, risk taking behaviour leading to transmission of Hepatitis C, and obesity.

Dr Lombard is Clinical Director of Gastroenterology and Liver Services at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals. He chairs the National Training Committee for Gastroenterology; and chairs the Mersey Region Cancer Network group for liver and pancreas cancers.

He said: “The burden of liver disease has increased enormously in the past 10 to 15 years and unfortunately is an increasing cause of death in younger patients.  In the North West in particular we appear to have a higher prevalence of some liver diseases.

“The principal ones including alcohol related liver disease, liver disease related to obesity, and hepatitis C are avoidable and treatable conditions which, if left unchecked, can result in complications of cirrhosis and liver failure. 

“We have good local clinical resources in the North West and my role will be to improve the services nationally and to help GPs, nurses and others become more involved in helping patients with liver diseases.  There is a lot do be done but I am very grateful to the hospital management and my consultant colleagues at the Royal Liverpool for supporting me in this new role.”

Health Minister Ann Keen said: “Liver disease is the only one of the top causes of death in this country which is affecting more people every year at an increasingly young age.  We know that by identifying people earlier, encouraging them to change their behaviour and making sure the right services are in place, we can improve the quality of care and prevent the rise in this disease.

“Dr Lombard is a highly-respected clinical expert in this field and I am pleased to welcome him to the Department to lead our National Liver Strategy.  
“I am confident that Dr Lombard will build on the work already underway to make a real difference for patients and for the healthcare staff working in this area.”

Dr Lombard will remain active in clinical medicine and will continue to work part-time at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust.

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