25th November was a great day for the Lister Area Kidney Patient Association (LAKPA) as it saw the official opening of a brand new kidney centre in Dunstable. The new unit has 23 open stations, 8 side rooms, 4 shared care areas, 6 consultation rooms, as well as staff rest areas, training and quiet rooms and cleaning and maintenance areas.

The building was opened by Ellen Schroder, Chair of the North and East Herts NHS Trust and Kirit Modi chair of LAKPA. Kirit said “We are delighted the new centre is open. It has excellent facilities, and our aim is to establish a wide range of high-quality services for kidney patients by working in partnership with the Trust, so that it becomes one of the best in the UK." Tony Heath, who has been an amazing patient representative on the project team for many years said how delighted he was that the project had come to fruition in this way. The excellent facilities will enable kidney patients from Luton and Dunstable to access better services locally.

In 2018 a funding bid to the Department of Health was successful, a suitable site was identified, a contractor appointed, and the work was completed at the end of September 2021, ready for the first patients to start dialysis in early October. Thanks to the hard work of all the staff the move went well, and dialysis started successfully on October 11th. Once all the dialysis patients are settled in, other services will start to be introduced to deliver the truly transformational unit that has been planned.

LAKPA has been involved and consulted throughout the process and has worked with the project team in bringing the patient’s voice to the process. Ros Aird, LAKPA Secretary has worked closely with the Trust’s communications team in ensuring that patients, staff, carers and families were kept fully informed of the process of moving the operation, through leaflets, webinars and dedicated emails for queries. Ros said “The co-operation and goodwill of all involved, and the positive reactions from the patients and carers have made it a pleasure to be involved in this project”.

All the staff at the old unit have transferred and they are delighted with the space and peaceful ambiance that the unit provides - as one of the nurse managers said – “It may be further for me to travel, but it is so worth it”. Patients too have expressed their appreciation, as one said “I don’t know how it could be better”.

The final word should come from Dr Praveen Jeevaratnam, the Trust’s Clinical Director for renal medicine who said “I could not be prouder of the team who have worked so hard to deliver this landmark project. Thanks to their determination and collaborative approach, we have a state-of-the-art unit that is patient centric and a model for future developments”.