HC Deb 07 March 1966 vol 725 cc1714-5
60. Mr. Ginsburg

asked the Minister of Health what further progress has been made in the provision of facilities for the treatment of chronic renal failure by intermittent dialysis.

56 and 57. Sir E. Errington

asked the Minister of Health (1) how many kidney machines are in use in hospitals; and what steps are being taken to increase their number;

(2) what steps he is taking to increase the number of trained operators of kidney machines in hospitals or elsewhere.

Mr. K. Robinson

Within the past year the use of kidney machines for treatment of chronic renal failure has emerged from the research stage to become recognised as a form of treatment which the Health Service ought to provide. Ninety-five patients are now being treated through 33 machines in hospitals and nine in homes in England and Wales. I hope to provide facilities for not less than 100 additional patients within the next 12 months. I will, with permission, circulate a more detailed statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Ginsburg

I thank my right hon. Friend for his encouraging reply. Will he press on with developments in this respect? How does this country compare with other countries in this field of medicine?

Mr. Robinson

I do not think that any country has made more progress in providing this treatment than we have—certainly not the United States.

Mr. Wood

Can the Minister say what is the cost of these machines in hospitals, and whether modifications to them are being considered to make it possible to use them outside hospitals?

Mr. Robinson

Some patients are already using these machines in their own homes. I should not like to answer the right hon. Gentleman's question about cost without notice. There are indications that the cost is coming down and I am not sure what the latest figure is. Perhaps he will be interested to know that I have sanctioned the extension or establishment of renal dialysis units at 10 hospitals since 1st January this year, and a further six are under consideration.

Following is the information: The number of patients currently being treated, proportionately to population, com pares favourably with that in any other country in the world. The use of kidney machines for chronic treatment involves new, difficult, and still imperfectly developed techniques, skill in which can be attained only by experience; it also requires specialised equipment, important parts of which at the present time have to be virtually handmade, which needs much further development both to make it safer and more effective in use and to simplify and speed its manufacture. Vigorous efforts are being made by the Department's Working Party to overcome the technical problems, and by hospital authorities to establish as quickly as possible a network of treatment facilities, initially one or perhaps two full scale units in each hospital region. These units will provide both for the assessment and treatment of patients and progressively for the training of more skilled staff. Within the past two months ten schemes designed to provide ten-bed units have been sanctioned by the Department, six others are being considered in detail by the hospital authorities concerned, and one had already been approved before the end of 1965. Facilities for not less than 100 additional patients will become available within the next twelve months and many more in the succeeding months. Home dialysis offers special problems which it is important to evaluate before it would be wise to commend widespread extension of home treatment. A pilot study already in progress in London with the object of evaluating these special problems is being extended and a further pilot trial in the North of England has been sanctioned.