Cambridge patients lose out on treatment choice

May 9, 2007 12:45 PM

Older kidney patients in Cambridge are not routinely informed of treatment options that could improve their welfare and outlook.

According to a new health campaign called Dialysis Options, the over-65 age group is most likely to be restricted in its choice of dialysis treatment options, resulting in significant lifestyle and health inequalities.

Kidney failure is a life debilitating illness that dominates every moment of every day for more than 40,000 people in the UK (1). It can strike at any time but is most common in the fast growing 'Golden Age' group, where the mean age of those impacted is 65 plus (3). This group comprises 10,640 patients (4) or a quarter of all registered kidney patients in the UK.

In the Cambridge area there are 790 patients on the Renal Registry(2), of which 213 are over-65. Yet only 26 (12%) patients in this age group have dialysis treatment at home, despite wide-spread acceptance that home-based treatment is appropriate for most kidney patients.

When your kidneys fail you have two options: a kidney transplant or dialysis. Dialysis performs the function of the kidney by artificially filtering the blood. Without one of these treatments your condition will become critical.

There are two clinically effective forms of dialysis treatment: peritoneal dialysis (PD) where the patient is trained to perform dialysis for themselves at home to their own schedule and haemodialysis (HD) which is generally hospital based.

Home treatment removes the need for the patient to organise their lives around repeated journeys to a hospital that may be many miles from their home, and enables them to maintain a more normal and active life routine with uninterrupted access to family and friends; availability for work, travel and other leisure pursuits, all of which have a beneficial impact on personal wellbeing.

Local MP, David Howarth, commented:

David Howarth MP in the House of Commons"Many older people, including those suffering from kidney disease, wish to carry on living an active life. Offering them the option of home dialysis, where it is appropriate, makes it possible for patients to continue as normal a life as possible."

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