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Statement On Liver Transplants - Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, England

July 09, 2017

In light of recent press reports about liver transplants at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, we would like to make the following points:-

1. There is no truth in the assertion that patients from outside the UK can 'buy' a liver at the Royal Free or any other UK hospital, or are able to jump the transplant queue. The Royal Free treats patients from other European countries because they are entitled to NHS treatment under European Law. However, all patients are assessed and prioritised for treatment according to clinical need, regardless of where they are from.

2. The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust has a diverse transplant programme. Clinical teams in the trust already offer patients kidney, liver, islet cells and bone marrow transplants and is investing in research and services to provide face and other organ transplantation. The vast majority of people who receive transplants at the Royal Free are UK NHS patients. In the past two years, we have carried out 134 liver transplants, 120 of which were for UK citizens.

3. In accordance with European Law, all UK and European patients have the same rights to NHS treatment and donated organs. In the past, a small number of non-EU patients have come to the Royal Free for liver transplant surgery as private patients, but we have seen no such patients for the past five years. These patients were not placed on the Royal Free waiting list and received UK donor organs only once they had been declared unusable for any NHS patient. Any income the Royal Free receives from private patients goes back into improving care for NHS patients.

4. It is of course true that UK citizens are entitled to access similar programmes in other EU countries - although it is not known what the uptake is. It is also true that the need for liver transplantation often arises from the consequence of many different sorts of liver disease - including a condition called amyloidosis, in which the Royal Free has international expertise.

5. Until the Department of Health issues alternative instructions, or the EU rules on access by EU citizens to UK-provided health services change, the Royal Free intends to continue to provide such services within the legal frameworks set out in UK law. The trust is also committed to keeping these sensitive issues under review.

Andrew Way
Chief Executive

For more information on this issue, go to NHS Blood and Transplant.

Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust