Renal Dialysis Unit Officially Opens at Whitehouse Health Centre

Date: 31/01/2024

A new renal dialysis unit in Milton Keynes run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) has officially opened, providing specialist services for kidney patients closer to home.

The 16-bed facility is based at the state-of-the-art Whitehouse Health Centre and opened its doors to some of its first patients in December 2023 ahead of an official opening on Monday 29 January 2024.

The Whitehouse Dialysis Unit, run by Oxford Kidney Unit, is in addition to the Renal Unit located at Milton Keynes University Hospital.

Before the opening of the new renal dialysis unit, some patients from Milton Keynes travelled three times a week to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. Milton Keynes-based patients will no longer need to travel to Oxford for treatment.

A total of 64 patients can be treated three times a week – equating to 768 treatments every month or approximately 10,000 longer trips per year – in the new ward, saving some people approximately nine hours a week travelling from Milton Keynes to Oxford, based on a three-hour roundtrip.

It also saves approximately 4,500 kg – or 4.5 tonnes – of carbon each year, supporting the Trust’s carbon reduction and sustainability plan.

Charlotte Turner, Matron Renal Medicine at OUH, said: “The opening of this unit and expansion of renal dialysis services in Milton Keynes will have a really positive impact on our patients as, instead of needing to travel to Oxford, the travel times are much less.

“Staff are loving working here so far in a new, more modern environment, helping us to provide the best possible care to our renal dialysis patients. Improving access to this specialist care and reducing the travel time for our patients also helps us reduce our carbon footprint.”

Cristiane Gieseke, 50, was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in 1994 and, in December 2023, had a full nephrectomy to remove her two kidneys because they were too big.

As a result, the former nurse now needs dialysis three times a week until she finds a kidney donor. She started her dialysis treatment at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford but now has a far shorter travel time.

Cristiane, from Milton Keynes, said: “To get to Oxford I had to leave my house at 6am and come back at 3pm, which was far from convenient.

“I am very happy to now access my dialysis treatment at Whitehouse Health Centre as it is just five minutes from my house. I am really enjoying the place, and the staff have been fantastic.

“I can get here in a short time and return home and be comfortable without the journey to and from Oxford – it makes such a positive difference to me and other patients like me.”

Mark Holloway, Chief Estates and Facilities Officer at Oxford University Hospitals, said: “It was a privilege to meet with staff in their new ward, as well as some of the patients who will benefit from receiving this specialist care closer to home.

“Our expanded service will be transformative for this patient group. We are always looking for ways to enhance patient care and experience, so we are delighted that the new unit is up and running, reducing patients’ travel time and anxiety.

“We are thankful to our partners at Milton Keynes City Council, which helped fund and establish services at Whitehouse Health Centre, and Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which we work closely with to care for patients with kidney diseases.”

Milton Keynes University Hospital staff are also based at Whitehouse Health Centre, providing diagnostic services for patients in the city and surrounding areas.

Dr Ian Reckless, Medical Director at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have a strong collaboration with Oxford University Hospitals for the treatment of kidney disease, including renal dialysis, going back over 20 years.

“The demand for dialysis services has grown over the years along with our city, and some local residents have had to travel to another unit for dialysis.

“Renal dialysis can be gruelling and involves up to three half-day sessions per week. We are delighted that new capacity is being developed to support the MK population at the fabulous Whitehouse Health Centre facility.”

Milton Keynes City Council has provided £1.3m of upfront funding to complete the initial fit out for the renal services delivered by OUH, which will repay the council as part of an enhanced rent agreement.

Cllr Pete Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes City Council, said: “This new dialysis unit expands the network of specialist local support available to residents. As our city continues to grow, it’s critical that we provide the services people need within Milton Keynes, with the city council committed to funding, building and working with partners to bring forward new facilities to meet increasing demand and change ways of working to improve value for money.

“I’d like to thank our partners across the NHS who have worked with us to make this happen.”

Pictured: Patients Cristiane Gieseke and Dennis Goje (both middle) cut the ribbon, alongside clinical colleagues and representatives from OUH, Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Milton Keynes City Council