Kidney patients face travel misery as renal unit closes
8:34am Saturday 5th January 2013 in News
SERIOUSLY ill kidney patients are facing major disruption as the Royal Bolton Hospital’s renal unit undergoes emergency repairs.
Patients will have to travel to hospitals across the region.
The specialist unit, which treats 76 kidney outpatients from across Bolton and is just 10 years old, needs urgent repairs to its floor at a cost of £70,000.
Patients will have to travel to Rochdale and Wigan for the next two months for their treatment.
Problems with the building’s special “membrane” under the floor, which catches vapour, has led to holes and “bubble-like” patches appearing.
Health chiefs say this could pose a health and safety risk to staff and patients.
A leading borough politician and former kidney transplant patient, Cllr David Greenhalgh, says the closure is “a disgrace”
and has demanded answers as to whether “corners were cut” during construction, a claim strongly denied by Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Bolton Hospital.
Cllr Greenhalgh, leader of Bolton Council’s Conservative group, has had three kidney transplants and received dialysis for four hours, three times a week, at the unit since it opened in 2003 until he underwent transplant surgery last year.
He said: “Some very serious questions have to be answered. I shall be asking for a full report to come to the next Health Scrutiny Committee to get to the bottom of how this was allowed to happen.
“The lives of these patients, who live with kidney failure and dialysis, and whose lives are disrupted enough, are going to be disrupted even more for two months as they are shipped back and forwards to Wigan and Rochdale while the structural repair takes place.”
Bosses from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which will have to pay for the repairs, apologised to patients.
Stephen Tyldesley, associate director of estates and facilities at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Clearly we can’t leave the floor to get worse as this would affect the safety of patients and staff.
“I apologise for the fact patients will not be able to have their dialysis at the unit in Bolton for a while, but I’m sure they will understand that fixing the floor is in their interests.”
The firm which built the unit stopped trading in 2010 and the unit is run by Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust but on the grounds of the Royal Bolton Hospital.
A spokeswoman for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust is landlord of, and responsible for, the maintenance of the estate at the renal unit at the Royal Bolton Hospital. There was no error, corners were not cut.”
She stressed this type of flooring was guaranteed for between five and 10 years and renewing floors at the hospital was not unusual—but part of a “continuous programme of maintenance”.
The floor needs to be of a “very high specification” so it is durable for heavy use and also to meet infection control standards.
Patients will be “supported with travel arrangements to alternative sites”. The spokeswoman added: “Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has taken the opportunity of the centre being closed to undertake improvements to patient facilities, which will increase the duration of the closure by a further four weeks.”
Repairs are due to start on Monday, January 14, with the work expected to take four weeks.
A further four weeks of work to make improvements to the unit will then take place, and the unit will not open again until March 11.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust faces having to make savings of £50 million over three years with up to 500 jobs under threat.
Last August the Trust was put in “red risk” by health watchdog Monitor, following a damning report into its finances and governance.
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for renal services in the “west sector” of Greater Manchester, including Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Wigan, Bolton and Trafford, and it has three “satellite units” at Bolton, Wigan and Rochdale.
A spokeswoman for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust said: “Salford Royal is investing to make improvements to patient and clinical facilities.
“New clinic areas will be created and in response to patient feedback a new private weighing room.
“We would like to thank our patients and staff for their support during this temporary service change.”