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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 01:41 GMT
Campaign for kidney care reform
Dialysis services are over-stretched
Campaigners are calling on the government to introduce reforms to improve the care of patients with serious kidney disease.

The Kidney Alliance has drawn up a report containing proposals for reform which it launched at the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Causes of end stage renal failure
Glomerulonephritis - chronic inflammation of the part of the kidney that filters the blood
Polycystic kidneys - kidney tissue replaced by large cysts
Chronic interstitial nephritis - scarring of the kidney
Hypertension - can accelerate decline in renal function
Myeloma - cancer of the plasma cells of the bone marrow
The alliance - an umbrella organisation representing all UK organisations involved in renal services - wants the government to draw up a national framework for end stage renal failure similar to those already published for cancer and heart disease.

It says current services are dangerously stretched and suffering from severe under-staffing.

It has calculated that 316 nephrologists are required to service the renal community in England - currently there are 164 nephrologists.

In addition one in four posts for nurses qualified to treat kidney patients are unfilled.

The report is based on a comprehensive evaluation of the current provision of renal services.

It proposes a new framework for planning and service delivery for the next ten years.


Austin Donohoe, chair of the Kidney Alliance and himself a renal patient, said: "We fully appreciate that the government has initially focused on the bigger problems of cancer and cardiovascular disease and we therefore proactively decided to explore the issues facing renal medicine and find solutions ourselves.

"We would wish to see moves by the government to commission a National Service Framework for End Stage Renal Failure at the earliest possible opportunity so that seriously ill patients can benefit from better treatment."

The Kidney Alliance says much of the current infrastructure developed to treat end stage renal failure in the UK is generally sound.

However, its analysis shows that:

  • too few patients are receiving treatment
  • some treatment received is inadequate
  • there are inequalities in access to services and in the quality of service across the country
The document proposes seven National Service Standards that would form the basis of a strategic plan for renal services for the next ten years.

The alliance found that the number of dialysis patients is increasing year on year and is likely to increase by 50 - 100% within the next ten years.

Over half of provider centres report their dialysis programmes are so stretched that there is a threat to the quality of clinical care.

Four out of ten patients have a return journey to their dialysis unit of two hours.

The Department of Health allocated 10m in 2000/01 to expand and improve facilities for kidney patients. another 9m was announced for 2001/02.

The NHS Plan gives a commitment that 450 new and replacement dialysis stations will be delivered over the next three years.

End stage renal is caused by a variety of kidney disorders and is fatal if untreated. Treatment is through dialysis or transplantation.

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