Concern for Future of West Mid Dialysis Unit

Temporary closure of centre could become permanent

Entrance to West Middlesex Hospital. Picture: CW+ Charity

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Hundreds of patients at West Middlesex University Hospital’s dialysis unit and their families are fearing for the future of their treatment as new plans for the service have been revealed.

More than 350 people have signed a petition online after being informed that the current dialysis unit, which was temporarily closed over the pandemic, will be shut permanently and replaced with a new centre.

The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the service at the Isleworth-based hospital, is planning to create a new centre at the site, but patients are concerned over a lack of information and uncertainty of how their treatment will go ahead in the interim.

During the temporary closure due to the coronavirus crisis between March and December, patients who found West Mid hospital to be a “convenient location”, were forced to go to Ealing, Hayes or Charing Cross for their treatment, which they say had a huge impact on their lives.

The petition, created by Sita Latha Uppa, said, “Many of us now have to spend a large portion of our day away from our families which puts a toll on us mentally as well as physically.

“We are missing many special moments from our loved ones, as well as causing them to worry about our safety as we travel to busier areas to complete our treatment. This has also had a physical impact on our health as some of us who were able to walk with the aid of a walking stick are now using wheelchairs as the stress has physically affected our bodies as well as minds.”

Those who were able to manage the short journeys were also said to be suffering from travel sickness and nausea from the longer travel time, further weakening them physically.

They added, “This means that the quality of our lives is suffering as we feel weaker and are unable to complete some of our normal daily routines.”

And on the toll it is taking on patients’ work lives, they went on: “We risk our hours being cut back enormously, or even redundancy as we are unable to fulfil our work hours, as well as our standards of work slipping due to the stress and anxiety caused from worrying about how we are going to get to our treatments safely and on time.”

The campaigners are urging for the current unit to remain open until the new treatment centre is built, and for patients to be given more clarity on what is being proposed.

They said, “We have been given information that the unit will be rebuilt, yet we have not been given the confirmed date, nor do we see signs of a new unit being built. We would appreciate some more information on this…

“Help support us in asking for concrete information regarding the opening of the new centre, and to keep this unit open until a new unit is built, which will help many of us still have some sort of normality during these difficult times.”

The leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran, has written to the Trust asking why the decision was made to close the unit without proper consultation with patients, community groups and the Council. The Chief Executive of the Trust , Professor Tim Orchard responded by saying that the situation around Covid-19 had created unprecedented challenges but they were doing all they could to keep the service going until a new, larger proposed facility was built on site.

Cllr Curran said: “It was clear to me that patients, their family and friends, highly valued the local service the centre provides, that is why they were so worried about its future. I was very pleased this matter was brought to my attention and I am delighted with the response from Professor Orchard, giving assurance that the dialysis unit, which is currently treating 48 residents will be able to continue at West Middlesex Hospital."

A spokesperson for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said key estates work had been carried out on the dialysis unit while it was closed during the pandemic and now they will make “every effort” to maintain the service for local patients.

They added, “We’re really sorry that our communications and engagement with patients and other partners on this matter has fallen short.

“Given the existing facilities are old and in a poor state of repair, our longer term plan is to relocate and expand the service on the West Middlesex University Hospital site as part of a proposed new ambulatory diagnostic centre.

“Until then, we will endeavour to keep the service in its existing building but we will need to monitor the estates situation closely, working with patients and other partners on the best way to address any specific issues that arise.”

To view the petition click here.

Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter


February 19, 2021