For thousands of kidney patients and their families, shielding has taken a considerable toll on their mental & physical health. We at Kidney Care UK think you have been amazing and will continue to do all we can to support you.
People who have a kidney disease which needs strong drugs to suppress the immune system or have a kidney transplant will have been advised to stay inside the home with no contact from anyone outside since March. People on dialysis were only advised to shield at the end of April, despite evidence that they had needed to shield from the start. This was a lost opportunity. Communication about who should shield, who could get a food box and employment support was extremely unclear and anxiety levels rocketed. Even now some people have not had an official communication about needing to shield. There was a small relaxation of advice in June to say that people could go out for a walk.
It is likely that people will be advised that they no longer need to shield from August onwards. This phased relaxation should be coherent and transparent.
This is what needs to happen next:
- Every person affected should actually receive the letter advising them to shield before the end of June.
- Everyone who works should continue to receive support to work at home or continue furloughing until the end of July and be protected to stay safe at work in the future, as the Welsh government have already done in law.
- Relaxation of shielding should only come into place if infection levels continue to go down. (To support this, Covid data in the local community should be made available).
- Everyone who is eligible for a kidney transplant should be contacted so they know if they are now actively being listed or their living donation is planned (It is estimated that there were 556 fewer kidney transplants than there would normally have been during this period, meaning more people will have had to start dialysis.)
- Safe access to food for those who are not able to go to the shops or do online shopping should be assured.
- Mental and physical health interventions should be offered to every kidney patient.
- The rebuilding of confidence must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
To learn more about the impact of Covid in people with kidney disease see our recent survey: Government coronavirus advice leaves thousands in the dark
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