Elderly get fewer treatment options

MARK NICHOLLS Older kidney patients in parts of Norfolk are not routinely informed of treatment options, according to a new survey.According to a health campaign called Dialysis Options, the over-65 age group is most likely to be restricted in its choice of dialysis treatment options.

MARK NICHOLLS

Older kidney patients in parts of Norfolk are not routinely informed of treatment options, according to a new survey.

According to a health campaign called Dialysis Options, the over-65 age group is most likely to be restricted in its choice of dialysis treatment options. The survey claims that in the Norwich area there are 362 patients on the Renal Registry, of which 145 are over-65 but only 14 (10pc) of patients in this age group have dialysis treatment at home.

Dialysis Options advocates the availability of home-based dialysis treatment for all kidney patients where clinically appropriate.

The EDP reported last month that the East of England Strategic Health Authority has been holding talks with private sector partners about plans to hand over control of kidney dialysis, sparking fears among patients that their treatment could be severely affected. The main worry was that privatisation could see treatment established around satellite units rather than centralised in main hospitals, where they felt more secure because all the main back-up facilities were close at hand in the event of an emergency.

But North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, supports the Dialysis Options campaign.

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He said: “It is important that kidney patients are empowered to make choices about their health care and the option of home-centred care is immensely valuable.”

Campaigners say that 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.

Tim Statham, chief executive of patient organisation the National Kidney Federation, said: “Everyone accepts that the quality of life for a non-transplanted kidney patient suffering established renal failure can often be poor.

“It is imperative that the existing health system does not restrict still further what is, and is not, possible for these patients, by failing to offer peritoneal dialysis to appropriate cases. This is an issue about patient choice, and patient freedom, not administrative or clinical convenience.”

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