With Covid-19 infections decreasing across the UK, the National Kidney Federation, along with other kidney charities, has published new guidance to help dialysis units safely welcome patients.

Dialysis units are weighing up whether to re-open to dialysis away from base (DAFB) patients. Any dialysis patients who wish to travel during this period should talk with their renal team as patients receiving dialysis remain clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 and transmission has occurred in dialysis units. The guidance only applies if shielding or local lockdown is not in place in base or destination units.

What the new guidance says:

  1. Assess risk based on the current incidence of Covid-19 in the base unit/locality and the designated unit/locality for DAFB.
  2. Ensure that there is a documented discussion between the clinical staff at the base unit and the DAFB centre for shared awareness of Covid-19 infections in the base unit or receiving service. Ensure that the patient is aware in advance of the local protocols that they will need to follow.
  3. Those wishing to have holiday dialysis should have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, separated by at least three weeks before travelling. Travel should ideally be at least two weeks after the 2nd dose to build up an immune response. However, if a patient has refused vaccination or been unable to be vaccinated, this should not exclude them from being considered for DAFB.
  4. Patients should have a negative PCR Covid-19 swab 3-5 days before travel.
  5. On return to the base unit, patients should dialyse in isolation for two weeks, and have Covid-19 tests as per unit protocol. The base unit should consider its capacity to isolate patients on return from holiday whilst planning the timing of patients' holidays.
  6. Patients should not travel if they are a close contact (within 2m distance for at least 15 minutes) of any individual with Covid-19 infection, including other patients on the dialysis unit, within the preceding 14 days. Or been advised to self-isolate for any reason.
  7. Patients should not travel if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or are awaiting a Covid-19 PCR test result.
  8. Patients should not travel if they have planned surgery within 14 days after the proposed holiday return date as they will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days before the operation.
  9. Patients should follow the local guidance for high-risk prevalence, in the DAFB locality. This guidance is likely to vary with time and between areas.
  10. Advise patients to take out travel insurance before making any booking due to the risk of sudden cancellations. Check what is covered by travel insurance in the event of an infection with Covid-19 just before or during the holiday.

Read the full statement and guidance