Patients and special guests had chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of Ulverston’s new centre for people being treated for kidney disease at its official opening.
Furness Renal Centre, in Sandside Road, Ulverston, brings haemodialysis treatment and outpatient clinic facilities closer to home for patients.
Haemodialysis is a treatment to remove waste products and extra fluid from the blood, and is given to patients whose kidneys have stopped working properly.
Patients from the Furness area previously had to travel to Kendal several times a week for treatment unless it was possible for them to dialyse at home.
Improvements have been overseen by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for renal services across Lancashire and South Cumbria and has awarded a seven-year contract to Diaverum Facilities Management to deliver the service.
At Friday’s official opening event, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Deputy Chief Executive Jonathan Wood said: “For those living with kidney disease – and their loved ones – we know that the challenge of this lifelong illness is often made much harder by the travelling involved, so we are truly delighted to bring care closer to home for patients needing our care in south west Cumbria.
“This has been achieved in partnership with Diaverum and this building is the first of three new renal centres for our service.
“Right from the start we had active participation from patients in meetings and discussions, helping us decide everything from lighting and heating to colour schemes, coat hook placements and TV positions.
“Before this centre opened patients had to travel to Kendal – meaning that only 65% of patients were meeting the national travel target time of 30 minutes or less to dialysis. This figure is now much closer to 95% and we are proud of that. Going forward we expect to deliver specialist clinics here, all in keeping with our desire to bring care closer to home.”
Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell cut the ribbon to officially open the new centre.
Among the guests was Anne Aspinall, who campaigned for a renal centre in the Furness region after her late husband Jack started regular journeys to Kendal for dialysis treatment.
Mr Fell said: “When I was elected in 2019, one of my first surgery appointments was with Anne, who explained what Jack had to go through every time he went for dialysis – a long journey to Kendal, lots of waiting around, tying up an ambulance’s time, and uncertainty about journey times.
“I looked into the issue and was delighted to find out that the new centre in Ulverston was already on the cards, and was deep into the planning phase at that point.
“It's amazing now be stood in that building where people are getting treatment not far from their homes without those difficult journeys, and with health outcomes going through the roof as a result.
“It’s a fantastic local resource that’s serving the community and the patients who need it well.”
The existing renal unit at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal is also being refurbished as part of improvements to renal services in South Cumbria.
When it reopens in December it will continue to offer haemodialysis treatment and outpatient clinics, as well as provide new training facilities for those who wish to manage their own treatment at home. Currently, people from South Cumbria need to travel to Chorley for home dialysis training.
New renal centres are scheduled to open in Burnley in autumn 2021 and Blackburn in early 2022.