MP calls on Rishi Sunak to do all he can to reopen Bedford Renal Unit

The site was temporary closed earlier this month over concerns more patients were becoming anaemic
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Mohammad Yasin raised concerns with the Prime Minister today (Wednesday) about the temporary closure of Bedford Renal Unit while investigations take place on the water treatment unit.

The site – in Napier Road – was closed on March 6 after the East and North Hertfordshire Trust were concerned that more patients than would be expected were becoming anaemic in Bedford.

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The trust – which has five dialysis centres across the region – is are now investigating the cause and have commissioned expert reports of the water quality and the water treatment unit within the Bedford unit.

Bedford Renal Unit and, inset, MP Mohammad YasinBedford Renal Unit and, inset, MP Mohammad Yasin
Bedford Renal Unit and, inset, MP Mohammad Yasin

While no abnormalities with the water have been found, it has identified some issues with the treatment unit which would make it more likely that impurities from the mains water may have passed through to patients receiving dialysis.

This has meant the nearly 100 patients who rely on the Bedford unit for dialysis three to four times a week now have to travel to other dialysis centres in Milton Keynes, Stevenage and Northampton.

During Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Mr Yasin said: “Bedford Renal Unit is closed until further notice while investigations into the water treatment unit are carried out. This is a major incident for the nearly 100 patients in Bedford whose lives are now severely disrupted by the need to travel around 50 miles up to four times a week to access life-saving kidney dialysis. Will the Prime Minister commit all the necessary resources needed by East and North Hertfordshire renal services to urgently fix this major issue?”

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Rishi Sunak replied: “I’m sorry to hear about the specific issue with the renal unit – he will forgive me for not being familiar with the exact details but I will make sure we will look into it at the Department [of Health and Social Care] and that the NHS is being provided with all the support that they need to rectify the situation.”

All affected patients in Bedford were informed by letter on February 29 about the provisions put in place to ensure the continuity of their treatment, including a 24/7 dedicated team to help with transport problems and any other issues. And the East of England Ambulance Service is providing transport services to patients who need it.

Following PMQs, the MP for Bedford said: “The temporary closure of the unit is very distressing and extremely disruptive to patients who need regular access to dialysis. So, I am pleased the Prime Minister has said the department will provide the necessary support to the NHS to get the safe running of renal services back up and running in Bedford. That is the priority. Because patient’s lives are being severely impacted for many weeks and we don’t yet know the cause of the problem and how long it will take to fix.

"I will be following developments closely and doing all I can to ensure this is dealt with. But we also need to know what went wrong here for a renal unit, purpose built only a decade ago, to have to shut down. Kidney dialysis units in the region are already at capacity and under immense strain, so much more investment is needed to bring home based therapies to patients, which will not only save the NHS money in the long term, but will mean dialysis patients can lead fuller lives.”