A special opening event took place for a new centre in Blackburn for people with kidney disease, named in honour of a doctor who recently celebrated 50 years with the NHS.
The Laurie Solomon Renal Centre has been opened by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as part of a programme of improvements to renal facilities across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Improvements to facilities in East Lancashire are being 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.
Dr Solomon, who is a renal consultant based at Royal Preston Hospital, said he was surprised to be asked if the centre could be named after him, but agreed after receiving encouragement from his family.
He said: “I am flattered to have it named after me. It was unexpected, but very pleasing. My family are very proud.
“It is a magnificent centre. I'm not given to hyperbole, but it is state-of-the-art. One important benefit is that it is not just a dialysis centre. There is an outpatient facility that can be used for all aspects of kidney disease and kidney transplantation.
“Diaverum and the Trust should be congratulated on the building design, which offers a pleasant place for patients to be treated and staff to work.”
Dr Solomon is due to retire soon but intends to continue working if possible. He started at Royal Preston Hospital and East Lancashire in 1990, having qualified as a doctor in 1972.
He said: “It has been a happy 32 years because of the patients and my colleagues including medical, nursing, secretarial and administrative staff.
“Since I qualified, one of the most striking things is that people live longer - on average 10 years longer than the previous generation.
“The outlook for patients with chronic kidney disease, those on dialysis and with kidney transplants has also improved enormously. I am very pleased to have been able to practice medicine and play a part. There are ups and downs, but medicine is a very rewarding career. There are some aspects that you get better at - not necessarily the clever science, but understanding what is important to people.”
The new centre in Blackburn provides 24 haemodialysis stations and outpatient clinic facilities for patients from across the region. 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.
The programme of improvements has seen new renal centres created in a former school in Ulverston and a shopping centre in Burnley. The Blackburn Centre has been purpose-built on the site of Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Diaverum UK Managing Director Lisa Jordan said: “This is the first dialysis centre that we have built from the ground up, and that is quite an achievement by all involved.
“It has been so lovely to be working with our partners at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals to open our second centre in East Lancashire this summer.
“We are honoured to be able to name this new Centre after Dr Solomon.”
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Chief Executive Kevin McGee said: “Laurie’s 50 years of NHS service is a remarkable commitment to the NHS and our patients.
“He has been instrumental in leading on and improving care for people with kidney disease in East Lancashire initially as a single consultant by himself but now alongside five other consultants and senior colleagues.
“We thought a fitting tribute would be naming this absolutely magnificent centre after him.”
Patients were involved in designing the new facilities and worked closely with the Trust and Diaverum throughout the project.
Salim Karolia, who has been on dialysis for almost 35 years, lives just a few minutes away from the new centre. He previously travelled to Burnley and Accrington for dialysis sessions.
He said: “We have been waiting a long time for this centre. Today we have seen the result, and we’re very happy.”
Also in attendance at the opening event was former Mayor of Blackburn Salim Mulla, who raised nearly £90,000 for kidney care during his time in office and was instrumental in securing the land for the new centre.