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Green Light for Waitemata DHB Renal Service, Unit

Tuesday 17 November

A long-awaited comprehensive renal service and unit is to become a reality at North Shore Hospital following approval of a three-phase plan by the Waitemata DHB board.

In phase one of the five-10 year programme, Waitemata renal inpatients currently treated at Auckland DHB will be transferred to Waitemata’s care from 2011, and a new renal unit will be established.

The purpose-built, one-level renal facility will be constructed on the North Shore Hospital site to provide in-centre renal dialysis for people with kidney failure.

Construction of the unit will start before mid-next year next year and the $9.2 million facility will be operational from around July 2011. It will accommodate up to 48 haemodialysis patients a day, as well as a peritoneal dialysis unit.

Meanwhile planning and recruitment for the new renal service, including the appointment of four nephrologists and key nursing positions, is already well underway.

The service will diagnose and manage all forms of kidney disease, care for patients before and after kidney transplants, and provide on-site support for other hospital services.

An existing clinic to manage and treat high blood pressure, a key cause of kidney disease, will also be enhanced by the appointment of a hypertension nurse specialist.

Currently Auckland DHB provides almost all renal services for Waitemata residents from its central Auckland sites, meaning Waitemata patients must travel long distances three times a week, for 4-6 hour dialysis sessions.

Respected nephrologist and clinical leader of Waitemata’s new service, Dr Walter Van Der Merwe, says the new service will make an enormous difference to these people.

“I think it’s very exciting and long overdue. We’re in the privileged position of having a clean slate to work from and the people in the Waitemata area will benefit greatly from locally provided services.”

The new renal service will also mean dialysis patients needing elective procedures, such as joint replacements, will be able to undergo their operation at North Shore Hospital, closer to home. Currently dialysis services aren’t available at the hospital to support this happening.

Presently around 220 Waitemata residents are on dialysis. Existing Waitemata renal patients will start transferring from Auckland to Waitemata DHB from July 2011, and all new dialysis patients will be cared for by the Waitemata service from this date.

The entire patient transfer is expected to be complete by 2013, though Auckland DHB will still perform kidney transplants for Waitemata patients and care for them in the first two-months after surgery.

Management and governance of the Waitakere Hospital-based renal facility, currently run by Auckland DHB, will also transfer to Waitemata DHB from June 2010.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with Auckland DHB to ensure a seamless transition for patients and to ensure everyone’s wellbeing is cared for,” Dr Van Der Merwe says.

In the second phase of the programme, additional community-based satellite facilities will be provided where more patients can manage, or partially manage, their own dialysis, while the third phase will establish home haemodialysis training and vascular surgery.


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