HMP Preston has become the first remand prison in the country to be awarded micro-elimination status for its work to combat hepatitis C. Healthcare provider, Spectrum Community Health CIC has worked tirelessly with the prisoners across the past year to achieve this status. 

“To achieve hepatitis C micro-elimination in a remand prison is simply outstanding, due to the difficulties of delivering healthcare within our prison setting, as our prisoners come and go. We are the first in the country and it was believed that it could not be achieved. What is more outstanding, I have the privilege and honour to work with and represent a team of people who embraced the challenge and changes which were required, to improve the services we deliver and most importantly improve people’s

lives.”

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes significant liver damage. A person dies every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – and an estimated 58 million people worldwide have hep C. A common route of transmission is via drug-sharing equipment.

The aim of hep C micro-elimination is to erase the disease through specific population groups, for example amongst the approximately 84,000 prisoners currently in the UK.  With hepatitis C affecting as many as one in 20 male prisoners (according to Public Health England data) and an even higher proportion of female prisoners, micro-elimination is key in the ever-growing need to improve the health and mental wellbeing of people in secure environments.

The Hepatitis C Programme Team at NHS England and NHS Improvement, stated: “In time for World Hepatitis Day, the Hepatitis C Virus Programme Oversight Group (HCVPOG) Health & Justice sub-group met on 16th July to assess the nominations of micro-eliminated prisons across the estate. On behalf of the Hepatitis C Elimination Programme, we would like to congratulate HMP Preston and their partner organisations for achieving micro-elimination.”

Dr Linda Harris OBE, Spectrum’s Chief Executive, said: “This has been achieved at HMP Preston through focused attention on this element of the population in need. I am grateful to the whole team and to our HMPPS colleagues for their effective work.”