The National Kidney Federation (NKF) has found that some patients who require dialysis treatment are being put off booking holidays due to a lack of options and information about receiving their lifesaving dialysis treatment away from their home.

Dialysis is a process of removing waste products and excess fluid which builds up in the body when the kidneys stop working.

Around 30,000 people in the UK require dialysis treatment to stay alive, this can mean travelling to a nearby treatment centre or dialysing at home for a number of hours, multiple times a week. If those patients want to be able to travel in the UK or abroad for a holiday, they are faced with finding a dialysis unit close to their chosen destination that can administer the required treatment whilst they are away.

The NKF conducted an online survey to understand the national picture having previously heard anecdotal evidence that patients have faced difficulties in accessing Dialysis Away From Base (DAFB) when travelling for holidays or other reasons.

Around 68% of respondents to the charity’s survey felt being on dialysis held them back from booking a holiday. Reasons given for this included a lack of information about how the booking system works, difficulty in securing dialysis slots in their chosen (or any) destination, and units not confirming their dialysis slots until the last minute leaving them unable to confirm holiday plans.

Even amongst those who indicated they were able to book holiday dialysis, some respondents indicated that they hadn’t been able to book nearby, so had to travel a significant distance from where they were staying. Others said that it was easier to book holiday dialysis abroad than it was to travel within the UK. The charity's research found that the logistical difficulties of getting confirmed dialysis slots made booking holiday or attending family events very challenging. One patient reliant on lifesaving dialysis, Ruth, said that it was 'very difficult to book accommodation without losing deposits or paying more if host units will not commit until the last minute. This makes going away a nerve-wracking experience and can be a deterrent.'

The charity’s research found that patients particularly struggled to access holiday dialysis in areas of England such as Cornwall, Devon and London, as well as parts of Scotland and Wales.

Andrea Brown, Chief Executive of the NKF said: ‘We all know the positive benefits to our mental wellbeing that even just a short holiday away from home can have. Many patients undergoing dialysis face many years of treatment and we need to ensure they have the confidence and ability to take holidays if they wish to. We need clear and consistent information from dialysis units on the process of booking holiday dialysis, and those units that are within popular UK holiday destinations need to be sufficiently resourced to provide holiday dialysis slots during the busy summer months. We would like to see the NHS commit to reviewing how access to holiday dialysis can be improved.”

More information on the NKF’s research can be found on their website: