Blog Spot from the Renal Association.
Katie Vinen – Chair of the Clinical Services Committee
I am delighted to have taken on the role of chair of the Clinical Services Committee at UK Kidney Week in Liverpool this year. This committee represents the voice of renal unit clinical directors and aims to optimise service delivery within renal medicine.
Those of us who work in renal medicine recognise that we face particular challenges at every part of the renal pathway. In primary care we face an epidemic of previously unrecognised renal disease and need sophisticated systems for identifying and managing large populations with early stage kidney disease. In our dialysis populations we seek to deliver a highly labour intensive and technologically complex treatment. We seek to do this three times per week, close to our patients’ homes and often for the rest of their lives. Our transplant patients require surgical innovations at the time of transplant and ever more sophisticated medication to promote and extend transplant survival across complex immunological barriers. We care for a population whose very survival depends on a high level of self-management and education at a time when staff shortages challenge our ability to deliver such education. As we strive for excellent patient experience, high quality clinical care and ever greater efficiency, we operate within a financially challenged NHS with huge staffing problems caring for an increasingly aged and complex population.
However, in the new era of mature collaboration between industry and the NHS which Graham describes, we recognise the very significant contribution industry can make in supporting our services and our patients. Through new technologies (such as the range of home dialysis options now available) and in the development of new drugs such as the development of oral medications to improve haemoglobin levels, we can collaborate to improve our patients’ lives. Improvements in dialysis technology can free staff time for education and facilitate high levels of patient self-care. Joint venture haemodialysis units can allow truly local medical care but must deliver both a high quality and a highly efficient dialysis service. Further progress in good information technology will allow us to monitor both our early stage CKD patients and our more complex dialysis and transplant community allowing less frequent visits to hospital and increased research and learning from their clinical outcomes. The successful development of more generic technology such as those allowing our more co-morbid and elderly patients to remain independent for longer is likely to determine whether our NHS remains fit for purpose for the next decade.
Industry has also supported us in the sponsorship of educational events both for staff and for patients. We are grateful for continued industry sponsorship of the renal CD forum each year where CDs gather to discuss challenges to service delivery, learn about expert programmes across the country and compare notes on staff recruitment challenges and morale.
In the future we will increasingly seek to co-manage disease with our patients themselves and to co-design our patient pathways, we should seek the support of industry in educational sponsorship and explore opportunities for staff development. There is much to be gained by constructive collaboration – we look forward to working with you.