Energy costs: kidney patients are unfairly impacted
- 22 Sep 2022
Kidney patients are being unfairly impacted by the cost of living crisis.
Some of the 25,000 who travel to have their dialysis in a unit or hospital have to pay to travel there, when the average cost to fill a tank is around £100, an increase of about 25% compared to this time last year. (NHS England has made a commitment to transport support for in-centre dialysis patients which should come into force by April 2023.)
The 5,000 kidney patients who have their dialysis at home have to pay for the cost of running their dialysis machine, and in some cases are not reimbursed at all for this. Many of those that do receive some reimbursement have not seen it increase in 2022.
In January 2022 when energy cost 19p per kWh, we estimated a cost between £593 and £1,451 to run a home dialysis machine for a year. With the new energy price cap intervention, there is an increase to around 36p per kWh in October 2022. That means an estimated cost for home dialysis will go up to between £814 and £1918 per year.
This is just the cost to run the machine, it does not include the household energy and utility costs – which are often higher for kidney patients because many have anaemia, so they always feel cold. Patients like Dawn White, who lives with renal failure and relies on her haemodialysis machine to survive, have shared their concern about the coming winter with Kidney Care UK and the BBC.
Without support now, many vulnerable kidney patients will not be able to pay for the huge increase in the cost of their treatment just to stay alive.
"It simply isn’t good enough," says Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK. "After we raised this issue through our Priced Out Of Existence campaign, we heard that the Department of Health and NHS England 'are committed to help kidney patients and are working with dialysis providers, hospitals and trusts’ but this has not yet led to immediate reimbursement for those who need it most and need it urgently. Words are not enough; now is the time for action. As every day passes kidney patients are spending more on fuel or utilities just to stay alive.
"We need to know exactly how the Department of Health will help kidney patients now because empty promises and platitudes will not power dialysis machines or fuel cars.
"We have written to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss and asked them to work with energy companies to develop capped tariffs for people on medical treatments at home, such as dialysis, and to develop immediate targeted support for vulnerable energy customers with medical conditions."
For kidney patients this needs addressing immediately.
If you are concerned about the rising cost of energy we are here to help. Please look through our cost of living support resources or get in touch with Kidney Care UK for more information about financial support.
The UK Kidney Association Patient Safety Committee has released a toolkit aimed at health professionals to help them support their patients with reimbursement of additional utility costs for home dialysis. It includes recommendations for practice, a patient assessment form, and a reimbursement calculator. This is a tool which can help hospitals who do not have a way to work out how much they should be paying at the moment, although some hospitals will already be using their own methods. If you're a kidney patient, you may wish to highlight this toolkit to your unit if they're not aware.
We encourage all Trusts to reimburse everyone on home therapies and to ensure guidance and tools are shared with all renal and finance staff, as we regularly hear that some staff may be not be aware. It should be noted that this calculator does not include heating or lighting of the dialysis room. Some Trusts do pay this already and we believe that patients should have those costs repaid also. It may not be possible to dialyse if the fluids are too cold.
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