Travel - with its inherent uncertainties and seemingly inevitable delays – can be frustrating, tiring and unsettling for anyone, however healthy they may be. One need only look at the expressions and body language in a queue for a bus, train or plane to know that. A bad journey can have a big impact on the experience of the event for which the transport was needed. In contrast, when travel is comfortable, timely and efficient, it is a pleasurable experience that can leave us feeling relaxed and positive. That idea should be food for thought for anyone commissioning haemodialysis services.
Patient transport for hospital or satellite haemodialysis is different from all other transport to and from hospitals. No other medical condition requires such frequent travel back and forth for treatment for months and years on end. Six journeys a week, three to the haemodialysis unit and three back home – Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Every week - Christmas and holidays included. Transport is therefore a significant component of the patient’s experience of haemodialysis, and it is no wonder that it is frequently cited as the part that most needs improving. As this patient survey shows, complaints are common. Difficulties in identifying who is responsible and who can improve the service are almost universal.
This report shows that 95 per cent of eligible units participated in the survey, and I would like to thank the thousands of patients and the staff who took part.
By providing details of their experience of this aspect of care, they have highlighted an important issue for the kidney community in improving patient experience. I look forward to seeing this on the agenda of every kidney care network, on seeing ownership of the issue and working together to see what improvements we can make for patients.