By the Hepatitis C Trust
The Hepatitis C Trust is the national charity for hepatitis C. Operational since 2001, our aim is to ensure no one dies from this preventable and treatable disease, and it is eliminated from the UK.
As a patient-led organisation we were set up by people with lived experience of hepatitis C, and our working model has always been to put patients and the patient experience at the centre of our work. Our peer-to-peer work is core to this model. Our main points of contact in the early days of our work were through our website and helpline, both of which were, and still are, run by peers with lived experience of hepatitis C - peers who offer advice and support by drawing on their own expertise and personal experiences. Today, while our website and helpline are still thriving, we offer an extensive peer-to-peer programme across the UK, with 140 staff and peer volunteers (52 staff and 88 volunteers).
Our peer support programme has evolved to meet the current needs of patients and the changing landscape of health service delivery throughout the UK. This has been fundamental to reaching those who face the most challenges accessing services.
In May 2016 the UK signed up to the World Health Organization (WHO) goal to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030. The Scottish Government subsequently stated the aim to eliminate hepatitis C six years before this target, while NHS England has set a goal of 2025.
This report puts forward the case for the unique and critical role of The Hepatitis C Trust's peer support work in overcoming the barriers necessary to effectively meet these targets. This work has contributed to successfully paving the way towards meeting elimination goals and will continue to do so in the future.