Hepatitis C Trust slams DoH over virus campaign

The Hepatitis C Trust has accused the Department of Health of ‘arrogance’ for failing to consult the body regarding the Government’s first campaign surrounding the disease.

The first stage, targeting health professionals, is under way with a second phase targeting the public due to launch in the autumn.

However, trust chairman Charles Gore said: ‘This was done without consultation; we had a two-hour meeting in which [DoH officials] told us what they were doing and that was it. It is extremely arrogant of them and a waste of our resources.’

Gore was also critical of the aspect of the campaign targeting the public, which is expected to have a ‘softly-softly’ approach in order to avoid panic.

He said he also understood there would be no TV advertising, which would make the campaign ‘too low key’. He added: ‘The danger is that it will just pass people by.’

The PR strategy for the campaign and the targeting of health professionals has been handled by agency Munro & Forster, which has also produced publications for the consumer push.

The campaign comes under the remit of public health minister Melanie Johnson.

It is estimated that 200,000 people in the UK may have chronic Hepatitis C, although most do not realise they have the virus as it can take years for symptoms, which include liver damage, to appear.

People most at risk are those who have injected drugs or received a blood transfusion before 1991, when the virus was categorised as Hepatitis C.

A DoH spokeswoman said: ‘The campaign takes into account the views of stakeholders.’

The estimated cost is understood to be around £1m.

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