On World Kidney Day, Calls for Government to Restore Long-term Leadership and Direction to Kidney Transplantation

05-03-12: MPs and Members of the House of Lords have been told that the Government must make kidney transplantation a long-term priority to save lives and save money in NHS budgets.

At an event in the House of Commons on Wednesday 7 March 2012 to mark World Kidney Day, the Kidney Alliance said that it was already clear that the Government would fail to achieve the 50% increase in Transplant operations promised nearly four years ago, despite some movement towards this modest 5 year target. What improvement there had been was the result of work by NHS Blood and Transplant, driven and directed by a central body, the Organ Donation Task Force.

However, the Task Force has been disbanded only three years into its five-year plan.  A transitional body will oversee the integration of transplant services into the new NHS structure, but the Kidney Alliance is concerned that no announcement has been made on the long-term future direction of kidney transplant services.

Despite recent progress, each day at least one person will die whilst waiting for a kidney transplant.  Fiona Loud, Director of the Kidney Alliance and a kidney transplant recipient said: “With people dying because there are not enough kidney transplants taking place, now is not the time to lose long-term direction.  Doing so puts at risk all the progress made so far, it increases costs to the NHS because more dialysis services are needed and it means people are likely to continue to die.”

Increasing the number of kidney transplants relies on the ability of hospitals to identify organ donors and, through dedicated transplant teams working in close liaison with patients’ families, to ensure the donated organs are used to save lives.  Improving the identification of potential donors across the NHS is one priority.

We believe we need national leadership and greater commitment. Donor organs are shared nationally so the level of coordination required to allocate and transport these organs effectively would be reduced by a purely local approach. A national drive inclusive of the government has to continue if the UK is to approach the transplantation rates achieved elsewhere in the world.

Increasing the number of donors is also important and on World Kidney Day, the Kidney Alliance is asking anyone who is not on the Organ Donor register to sign up and become an organ donor.  In particular the Kidney Alliance supports the launch of a report from the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group calling for improvements in kidney donation and transplantation within UK Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

The Kidney Alliance is calling on the Government to restore long-term leadership and direction that builds on the improvements already achieved, to drive further progress in increasing the number of kidney transplants and ultimately to prevent people dying whilst waiting for a kidney transplant.