Building work is under way at the site of a new centre in Ulverston for people being treated for kidney disease, due to open in July.
The new centre, on the former site of Sandside Lodge School in Sandside Road, will provide haemodialysis treatment and outpatient clinic facilities.
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 region currently have to travel to Kendal several times a week for treatment unless it is possible for them to dialyse at home.
Improvements 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.
The new arrangements will allow 94% of patients across Lancashire and South Cumbria to access haemodialysis within the national target of 30 minutes travel time from home. The current figure in South Cumbria is 65%.
Dr Mark Brady, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Clinical Director for Renal Medicine, said: “It’s fantastic to see the new Ulverston centre beginning to take shape, and we are looking forward to being able to welcome our patients to this new facility.
“This project will bring treatment much closer to home for a significant number of our patients, reducing travel time and improving patient experience.”
Nora Kerigan, Renal Deputy Divisional Nursing Director, said: “The artist’s impressions of the Ulverston unit show what an excellent facility this will be for our patients.
“As well as improving access to treatment we will be able to offer patients welcoming modern surroundings and the latest equipment.
“Patients are involved in the design and décor of the unit to ensure they receive their treatment in a comfortable environment.”
Under its contract with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Diaverum will operate haemodialysis and outpatient services covering East Lancashire, North Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Diaverum Managing Director Michael Hartnett said: “The progress we are making at the Ulverston site is the first tangible outcome of this new phase of Diaverum’s partnership with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“Patients are always at the heart of what we do and I’m really pleased that we’ll be able to bring services closer to those who need them through this development.”
The site of the new development was made available by Cumbria County Council after Sandside Lodge School relocated to a new site.
Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property, Cllr David Southward said: “We are delighted that the former school site is being put to such good use by providing this much needed service for local people. We were aware of need for these facilities and put forward our property in Ulverston as a perfect solution to both benefit communities and also bring a redundant council property back into a fantastic alternative use. This will also provide the county council with a long-term income.”
Following the opening of the new Ulverston centre, the existing renal unit at Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal will be refurbished. 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.