Kidneys: They're not sexy but they are necessary...
Dr Tiz North, KOSHH Party candidate for Sutton South, tells us why St Helier Hospital's Renal Unit is an essential service for the local community.
In 1964, the Renal Unit opened at St.Helier hospital and dialysed it’s first two patients. It was one of the first hospitals in the country to do so.
The unit was the brainchild of Dr Willie Rogers, father of the famous architect Sir Richard Rogers. At that time there were only two consultants in kidney medicine and now there are
14 renal consultants supplying specialist advice at St Helier Hospital and to satellite units in the England's south-east.
From dialysing patients in kidney failure, it moved on to transplantation, a service which sadly has since moved to St.George’s’. However surgeons still perform dialysis-related surgery at St Helier. This allows patients in kidney failure to have extended lives.
Tucked away behind St Helier's Renal Unit is the South West Thames Renal Research Unit. This unit was funded and built by charitable donations and is completely independent of any university or drug company. It produces ground-breaking research into the causes of kidney disease, the knowledge of which then is used to produce new treatments. The research unit is of such high calibre that it has produced nine PhD doctors, who have gone on to become renal consultants across the country with two of them working at St.Helier.
The Renal Unit is indeed the jewel of the crown for St Helier Hospital as many of the patients it supports will testify. However it is not a standalone unit insofar as the consultants support emergency admissions in General Medicine as well as to the Renal Unit. These doctors are also on hand to give advice to the rest of the hospital.
Residents of Sutton, Merton & Carshalton are very lucky to have a unit of this calibre on their doorstep and long may it last. Let us hope that our local commissioners of healthcare will realise this too. The councils of Merton and Sutton can both play an important role in lobbying commissioners to ensure this service remains at St Helier Hospital and is properly funded.