Success Of Hepatitis C Mass Testing At HMP Durham

04/04/2023

A successful hepatitis C mass-testing and treatment event at HMP Durham was spearheaded by Spectrum over an impressive four-day period.

The category B reception prison in Durham city centre houses over 900 adult/young male remand prisoners. Together with HMPPS, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Operational Delivery Network (ODN) team and The Hepatitis C Trust, Spectrum commenced the mass-testing on March 10.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus (BBV) that causes significant damage to the liver. One of the most common routes of transmission is via drug-sharing equipment; The Hep C Trust states that the prevalence of the disease within prisons is approximately 6%, compared to 0.7% in the community’s adult population.

The teams set out to test using a common method called a High Intensity Test & Treat programme (HITT). Out of the 975 prisoners offered hep C testing, 942 accepted – 96.6%. The completion of HITT, in such a small timeframe and with such a high percentage tested, was a tremendous achievement for everyone involved. This work forms part of the goal set by NHS England, to eliminate hep C in the country by 2025.

Steven Knight, Governor at HMP Durham, said, “The officers and I welcomed this event, which builds on our joint working with healthcare teams to support prisoners in accessing appropriate medical support, information, and intervention. I’d like to thank both Spectrum and The Hep C trust for the amazing work that was completed in collaboration with HMP Durham, to achieve such a high uptake in testing.”

Craig Thompson, Spectrum’s Regional BBV Operations Manager, who helped oversee the planning of the event, said, “It was a fantastic team effort over a weekend, resulting in a very successful HITT event. Spectrum, NHS ODN, The Hep C Trust and HMPPS colleagues all worked together to produce a brilliant uptake rate of 96.6%.”

Lee Christensen, National Prison Partnership HITT Manager at The Hep C Trust, said, “The support from the prisoners who had been trained in hep C awareness was absolutely fantastic and contributed to the high numbers tested. The prison should be so proud that they took ownership of the HITT programme.”

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