Nurse sets up own dialysis centre – but patients have to pay
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A nurse has overcome many hurdles to open up her own luxury dialysis centre for people with kidney problems.
Nina Bondalici, who is a sister at Cromer Hospital's renal unit and has 17 years experience in dialysis care, has battled since September 2018 to open her own centre.
The 4 Seasons Dialysis centre in Folgate Road, North Walsham is now ready to accept patients. But, there's a snag. Currently the service is for private patients only because the NHS won't fund it - meaning people need to pay £350-£400 a session.
They can then make a claim to the NHS to be reimbursed but there's no guarantee, even though the NHS makes a saving on a patient dialysing away from their usual hospital.
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And it's also despite the lack of dialysis provision in Norfolk for people on holiday or business. Mrs Bondalici decided to go ahead with the venture even though the cost could deter people from enjoying something most people take for granted.
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Mrs Bondalici, who lives near Cromer, said: "In the UK, there exists only a small number of dialysis units which are exclusively dedicated to providing treatment to renal haemodialysis patients when away from their central base unit on a temporary basis,
"Quality of life for dialysis dependent people is significantly improved by spending time on holiday. A stress free dialysis treatment will enhance that experience and make your memories possible."
There are currently only two centres in Norfolk for holiday dialysis, with limited spaces. A newly opened dialysis centre in Bowthorpe, as well as in the county's hospitals are mainly for people living locally who need dialysis.
In a letter to Mrs Bondalici, an NHS spokesman said: "At the present time we have no plans to expand holiday dialysis capacity. In the event that we did then we would have to 'test the market' and undertake a process of competitive tendering. Our priority is to provide timely, safe and accessible access to dialysis for the resident population of the East of England, which we do."
Mrs Bondalici, with the help of her husband, found a commercial unit suitable for conversion and put in a planning application in 2018. The centre uses top of the range Fresenius machines with availability to treat four patients a day. There are comfy chairs rather than hospital beds and patients will be given drinks and snacks.