Over the last 12 months Kidney Care UK has spoken to kidney patients about their concerns and needs to ensure that we can campaign on their behalf throughout the pandemic.
Our latest report, ‘Lifting Lockdown’ released today (Wednesday 31 March 2021) found that Covid-19 continues to affect mental and physical health - more than half of the respondents (56%) have had their care disrupted and nearly four in ten (38%) felt their overall health has declined over the pandemic. This raises important questions over what can be done to support people living with kidney disease to regain and maintain their health as much as possible.
Emotional wellbeing ranks highly on patients’ list of worries and nearly seven in ten (68%) respondents would like continued mental health support to help them cope as restrictions ease. Kidney patients are concerned about the restart of ‘normal life’. While many in the general population may be looking forward to shops, pubs and leisure facilities being open and being able to socialise in larger groups, just 11% of respondents in this survey are looking forward to having the same freedoms as everyone else.
We also found high rates of anxiety around returning to work, mainly because of confusion around rights and protections once shielding ends. With only a quarter (26%) of respondents who are currently in employment expected to continue to be able to work from home once restriction ease, there needs to be more information on how employees can ensure their safety at work.
Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, said: “Having spent more than a year shielding, there are thousands of people who are understandably anxious about the return to ‘normal’ life again. From feeling pressured into returning to a workplace they feel is not safe, to the huge impact the pandemic has had on physical and mental health, kidney patients need support to step back towards a life closer to normal.
Kidney Care UK is calling for:
- All NHS renal services to be restored to pre-pandemic levels immediately to ensure those who need urgent access to care and kidney transplants can do so safely and quickly to prevent any unnecessary illness or loss of life
- All kidney patients to be signposted to NHS mental health support services and to be adequately supported with COVID-19 related anxieties and worries to help with the mental toll of the pandemic, such as delays and reduction in access to health services, having to shield from the world and the pressure of having to return to work
- The COVID-19 vaccine programme to be accelerated so that all clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people have access to their second COVID-19 vaccine quicker than the current 12 week wait time to give CEV people confidence to return to work / school / other public places as pandemic restrictions are eased in-line with local government plans (and for those who are immune-suppressed for the greatest opportunity to build up their immune systems)
- Support for all CEV people to feel safe and continue in their employment by:
- Empowering employees to know their rights and the means of raising concerns if they are expected to return to a workplace that is not COVID-19 secure;
- Ensuring employers understand the existing Government support, as well as regulations, that are in place when requiring their employees to return to the workplace.
The Lifting Lockdown report is released as the four nations of the UK see easing of restrictions and with them an end of shielding measures. This is the third report conducted by the charity in the last 12 months, capturing the needs and concerns of patients and families in over 2,400 responses during the year, 340 in this one.
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