Hospital boon for kidney patients

PUBLISHED: 07:10 07 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:58 22 October 2010


Kidney patients in north Norfolk will have dialysis on their doorstep from today when a new unit opens at Cromer hospital.

Kidney patients in north Norfolk will have dialysis on their doorstep from today when a new unit opens at Cromer Hospital.

Fifty people will be saved the ordeal of making three 50-mile round trips to Norwich each week to keep their bodies in check.

The eight new treatment stations are part of a £2.3m project to improve facilities at the hospital, adding dialysis, X-ray and MRI scanner units - which can all be moved when the long-awaited rebuild goes ahead.

It will make a huge difference to patients like 55-year-old gardener Ken Baker from Northrepps - who now only has to travel six instead of 150 miles for his weekly treatment.

"It is a godsend. It will save me 12 hours a week and give me my freedom back," he said.

Mr Baker, who has needed dialysis for 18 months because of a genetic kidney failure, is normally collected from his house about 3pm and gets home at 11pm, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

"It is stressful, especially when the transport gets delayed. They take your blood pressure when you arrive, and mine is often sky high," he added.

The nurse-led unit has 11 staff headed by senior sister Janet Dickenson, who said the opening of the local unit would be a boon for north Norfolk kidney patients, whose average age was 78, and who come from as far afield as Holt and Fakenham.

Sessions at the dialysis machines did in four hours what the body did naturally in two or three days - removing toxins and excess fluids.

Patients' time on the ward, situated behind the main hospital, has been enhanced by a set of overhead TVs bought by the local hospital friends organisation and a rolling programme of local art organised by the Church Street Gallery in Cromer.

The new units are using £1.3m of the £11m legacy left to Cromer hospital by widow Sagle Bernstein in 2000.

The X-ray facilities have also opened but negotiations are still ongoing between health chiefs over funding the use of the MRI scanner.

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