Gorleston hospital’s Renal Unit celebrates its 25th year

Some of the current Renal Team outside the unit

Some of the current Renal Team outside the unit - Credit: Submitted

Staff at the James Paget University Hospital's Renal Unit are celebrating a significant milestone in its history, as the renal unit reaches its 25th anniversary.

Senior Sister Belinda Burroughes in the unit today

Senior Sister Belinda Burroughes in the unit today - Credit: Submitted

The unit treats people whose kidneys are not working through dialysis, which filters out impurities and excess fluid from the blood.

And today as staff celebrate the quarter-century mark it was revealed the unit has treated more than 500 patients from Great Yarmouth and Waveney since its doors opened on July 1, 1991.

For senior sister Belinda Burroughes, the anniversary is particularly significant as she is the only member of staff still working on the unit who was present when it treated its first patients.

Belinda, who is now in charge of the unit, said: 'The progress we have made over 25 years has been remarkable.

The renal unit when it first opened in 1991

The renal unit when it first opened in 1991 - Credit: Submitted

'What started out as a small unit with just a handful of patients has grown and grown, in terms of numbers of people needing treatment, numbers of staff to care for them – and the size of our accommodation.'

The unit opened following a public appeal, which raised £350,000 with a further £50,000 coming from the British Kidney Patients' Association.

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When it opened, the unit had just four staff looking after 11 patients. An increase in demand meant that the unit had to be extended in 2001 and again in 2007.

Now, there are now 25 staff working in the unit, looking after 101 patients and overseeing 15,000 dialysis sessions per year.

a refurbishment of the unit

a refurbishment of the unit - Credit: Submitted

Many of the patients who attend for dialysis suffer from diabetes although some have specific conditions affecting their kidneys.

For some of the patients, dialysis is a lifeline which keeps them alive until they can have a kidney transplant. Each patient visits the unit three times a week – and each dialysis session can take three to four hours.

'It's a big chunk of time out of their week; our staff realise that and try to make their stay as relaxed as possible,' said Belinda.

'Because our patients spend so much time in the unit each week, we develop close friendships and there is quite a bit of banter. We are like a big family.'

Staff at the unit not only oversee patients' treatment but are also proactive in giving them advice on diet and lifestyle to help with their health.

They also encourage patients to become more involved in their treatment through an initiative called shared care. The aims to empower patients by improving their understanding of their care, encouraging them to take an active role in it and, in some cases, help them move on to dialysis at home rather than in hospital.

The renal team, plus patients past and present, are marking the 25th anniversary with a party on Sunday, July 3, at the Magdalen Methodist Church in Gorleston.

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