Liver disease

Liver disease covers a range of conditions including alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatitis. Most liver disease is preventable, with estimates suggesting over 90% of deaths are due to three risk factors: alcohol misuse, viral hepatitis and obesity, all of which are amenable to public health intervention.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on people's behaviour and their health. The effect on health included later presentations with non-Covid-19 symptoms for investigation, cancellations to appointments and longer waits to see specialists. Some people may also be reluctant to address concerns or attend GP practices due to fear of catching Covid-19. These missed diagnoses mean that treatment may be delayed or doesn't happen. 

There is evidence that people who are hospitalised with Covid-19 may experience liver damage (through elevated levels of liver enzymes) even without having previous issues. People with underlying liver disease may be immunosuppressed, increasing the potential risks of catching coronavirus and the complications from it, which includes a higher risk of death than people without a pre existing liver condition.* 

There has been a shift in alcohol consumption during the periods of national lockdown. The emerging picture is far from clear, with some people increasing their consumption and changing the places where they drink, while others cut down or stopped completely. The indicators from the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities' (formerly Public Health England's) Liver Disease Profiles will capture any changes. 

Key findings

All rates are directly standardised and are per 100,000 of the population for the age group stated.

Liver Disease

  • In 2022, there were 306 premature deaths (all persons under-75) from liver disease in the Lancashire-12 area: 205 (67%) males and 101 (33%) females.
  • The premature mortality rate from liver disease for all persons in the Lancashire-12 area (26.7) is significantly higher compared to England (21.4). Blackpool's rate (44.5) is also significantly higher whilst in Blackburn with Darwen (26.4) it is similar to England.
  • At a district level, Burnley (37.6), Chorley (35.6), and Lancaster (30.6) are all significantly higher, Ribble Valley could not be compared due to small numbers.
  • In 2022/23 there were 2,190 hospital admissions due to liver disease (all persons) in Lancashire-12, giving the area a rate of 172.3, which is statistically similar to England's rate of 155.2. Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen both have rates that are significantly higher (229.5 and 237.1 respectively).
  • At district level Burnley has a significantly higher rate of hospital admissions due to liver disease for all persons (258.4) whilst West Lancashire has a significantly lower rate (106.0).
  • The rate of hospital admissions due to liver disease for males in Lancashire (222.2) is similar to England (194.8). However, in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool is is significantly worse (324.7 and 321.6 respectively).
  • Hospital admissions due to liver disease for females in Lancashire (125.2) is similar to England (118.6) as is the case for Blackburn with Darwen (148.7) and Blackpool (138.7)

Alcoholic liver disease

  • The rate of premature mortality (all persons under-75) from alcoholic liver disease in Lancashire-12 (15.9) is significantly higher than England (11.6). Blackpool (21.6) is also significantly higher whilst and Blackburn with Darwen (14.6) is statistically similar (2022).
  • In 2022/23 there were 855 hospital admissions due to alcoholic liver disease, Lancashire's rate of 69.5 is significantly higher than England (49.4), Blackburn with Darwen also has a significantly higher rate (116.7) whilst Blackpool's rate is statistically similar to England (73.8)

For county and unitary data and further information please see below. 

Please note, on the indicators below, the geography may not default to Lancashire. To change this, click on the ellipses (...) next to 'Geography', then select 'Region' to change to the North West. Then click back into the geography filter and change the area (by selecting the ellipses next to the area name).

* from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Page updated May 2024