The NHS continues to provide insufficient home dialysis facilities, despite overall improvements in kidney care, charities have warned.

The Department of Health published a report today on the progress made in kidney care five years after the development of the national service framework. Improvements cited by the DH include increased capacity for dialysis and more satellite renal units.

There are not enough dialysis stations, staff and units to dialyse our patients in a timely fashion

National clinical director for kidney care Donal O’Donoghue said: “The NSF set out a vision for the NHS. The commitment to delivering this vision is having clear benefits for patients, including improved diagnosis and management in primary care and a decrease in the number of late referrals for dialysis and transplants. 

“There is still a lot more work to be done and I hope to see progress in all areas of kidney care continue over the next five years,” he added.

National Kidney Federation chief executive Tim Stratham told HSJ that although progress had been made, challenges remained, particularly around the provision of home dialysis. He said: “There are not enough dialysis stations, staff and units to dialyse our patients in a timely fashion. They are having only three sessions a week, which we believe is insufficient to retain good health.”

The report does not put “sufficient emphasis” on home dialysis, which accounts for roughly 2 per cent of the dialysis population, in comparison with 15 per cent recommended by NICE, and 30 per cent supported by the NKF, he said.

“The importance of home dialysis is that it doesn’t just relieve capacity problems, it means patients have more regular dialysis, they are fitter and healthier and they live longer – and that means big financial savings for the NHS,” he said.

Kidney Research UK chief executive Charles Kernahan agreed there needed to be more choice of where patients can receive their treatment.

He said: “The key is having home dialysis available for people to choose, because it doesn’t suit everybody, and needs will change as kidney disease develops in patients.The important thing is that the DH and the NHS have recognised the need, though there is still some way to go to implement it throughout the country.”