As COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, patients are keen to make travel plans, but concerns continue about rates of COVID-19 infection in the UK. The National Kidney Federation, along with other kidney charities, has published new guidance irrespective of DAFB type (Haemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis). You can read the new May 2022 guidelines by clicking here

Dialysis away from base

As a result of haemodialysis, patients needing their treatment at least three times per week, or peritoneal dialysis daily, travelling will involve the need to plan and arrange for dialysis to take place whilst away. This is called dialysis away from base (DAFB) and will require some forward planning to put in place the necessary arrangements. DAFB is recognised as part of the package of care for all renal dialysis patients.

NHS England has produced a Policy Statement setting out the arrangements for funding of this treatment, together with the responsibilities of renal units and patients when arranging dialysis away from base.

This document (published February 2016) can be viewed if you click here

Who pays?

The UK government has come to an agreement with the EU. From Friday 1st January 2021, people who travel from the UK to the EU (and EU travellers in the UK) will continue to receive medical treatment if they fall ill while abroad, but with some subtle differences in administration. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be replaced by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The new card is also free and application be completed via the NHS website.

Current EHIC holders will still have access to necessary healthcare in EU countries until the card's expiry date, at which point they will be able to apply for a GHIC.

The new card covers all emergency care and pre-planned treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy. People who require pre-planned treatment during their trip to an EU country can arrange to have it paid for in advance, and should not have to pay upfront for treatment themselves.

Please note that only the EU27 countries are covered by this arrangement in its current form - not Schengen Area countries Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein. It is not yet clear what additional countries will be covered by GHIC in future, but they are likely to include countries such as Australia and New Zealand, with whom the UK already has reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

More information about healthcare while travelling to the EU can be found on

Where to find help

In accordance with NHS guidance, renal units are responsible for helpling patients to make their arrangements for DAFB. Any spare places within the renal unit should then be made available to any patients who may wish to visit their area.

IMPORTANT : From time to time the funding of DAFB may be reviewed so it is imperative that funding arrangements MUST ALWAYS be made in advance.

Peritoneal dialysis fluid

The Renal Unit will help to make the necessary arrangements for your peritoneal dialysis fluids to be delivered to your holiday destination. They will ensure that the equipment you are taking with you for your DAFB is fully insured, either by the supplier company or the renal unit, and help you to check the airline policy on travelling with this equipment.

Always check in advance with your destination that they are happy to receive your clinical supplies on your behalf. Deliveries are usually made two working days before the patient travels.

Travel Insurance

You will need separate insurance cover as well as your European Health Insurance Card, which will only cover you for emergency treatment. You must declare your pre-existing medical condition and answer all questions put to you. It is important to read the small print in your policy. Please note that your dialysis treatment may not be covered by the insurance. Problems which might arise from your treatment will be the responsibility of the renal unit and you cannot claim against your insurers for any matters arising from negligence in the renal unit.

Please contact the NKF Helpline for a list of insurance companies who are willing to insure patients with pre-existing medical conditions. contact the free to call Helpline number 0800 169 09 36

Fitness to fly

If you need to request assistance at the airport you may be asked to provide a certificate of your fitness to fly. If your medical condition is stable, then you should not need to do anything. You may be asked to provide medical proof of your fitness to fly from your doctor.

When travelling with a Carer the airline should not separate you from your carer if you will need their help and every effort should be made to allow you to sit next to each other.

Travelling with medical equipment, needles and medications 

You should always ask your airline before you book what their policy is on travelling with your medical equipment, needles and medications. Each airline will have different restrictions or procedures for this and some will require a form to be filled out. Most Airlines will have a specific form which you will need to complete with the details of your medical equipment and requirements. These will need to be shown at the airport Security. (For more information on this see page 4)

You’ll need supporting documentation from a relevant medical professional (for example a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription). The same applies for gel packs. This will need to say why you need these items.

The amount of liquid medication you’re allowed to take in your hand luggage is subject to current security advice. The letter from your doctor will help with this.

Keep all medications, syringes and medical equipment in their original packaging.
Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point.

You must always let the cabin crew know when you need to use a hyperdermic needle. They will provide a sharps box for safe disposal of the needle. Cabin crew are not allowed to administer any medications or injections.

IMPORTANT : Make sure that you carry sufficient supplies of insulin in your cabin baggage, rather than in your hold luggage. Insulin may be inactivated if carried in the hold due to freezing temperatures.

Travelling with a dialysis machine

  • Please contact your airline at least 48 hours before you travel if you require advice concerning any medical requirements you may have.
  • Your dialysis machine should not be charged as excess baggage .
  • Equipment must be battery operated as a power supply cannot be guaranteed on board the plane.
  • You may not be able to use your dialysis machine on board. You cannot use equipment during taxi, take-off, approach and landing.

Baxter Guide - Travelling on Dialysis

Airport Special Assistance

Airports have strict policies on travelling with medical equipment and medications. You may need assistance at the airport and this needs to be arranged 48 hours before your flight. In some cases you might need to download a Special Assistance Form from their website

Below is a list of contact details to arrange Special Assistance for some of the main UK airlines :

British Airways 0208 738 5444 
Thomas Cook Customer contact centre 0800 916 0652
Jet2 0800 408 5591
EasyJet 0800 260 6686
Virgin 0344 481 4455
RyanAir 01279 358588
FlyBe 0207 3080812

Help in finding a dialysis unit for your dialysis away from base.

The hardest part of booking your holiday dialysis is in finding a suitable dialysis unit. There are holiday companies and websites which will help you but you will need access to the internet in order to find what you are looking for.

Helpful websites for finding UK renal units :

Renal Services + Davita Click here

UK Renal Units (list) Click here

Freedom Dialysis Holidays 8 Flaxland Crescent, Sileby, Leicester LE12 7SB
Tel. 01509 815999