Published on: 25 September 2019

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is on track to be a national leader in kidney patient care following the development of a new service.


The Sunderland Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology (SDIN) initiative at Sunderland Royal Hospital is believed to be the first of its kind in the North East. Consultant Kidney Specialist Dr Saeed Ahmed and his team have worked for the past 10 years to make their vision of a ‘one-stop shop’ for clinical assessment and procedures to maintain access to the body for dialysis a reality.


Previously in Sunderland, these were performed by a combination of specialties – Interventional Radiology, Vascular Surgery and Nephrology (the treatment of diseases that affect the kidneys). However, demands on these departments, including emergency work, meant the service could not be offered on a regular basis. Now, a dedicated SDIN team, made up of four renal consultants and five nurses who have all been specially trained, provide a service five days a week.


Typically, patients are assessed and receive all necessary treatment on the same day. As well as improved patient experience through reduced waiting times, other key benefits of the development include reduced pressure on other departments and on hospital beds and the provision of an education and training resource for all healthcare professionals in South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and the new School of Medicine at the University of Sunderland.


The Renal Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital serves 500,000 patients living in Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Durham and Washington - around 280 of whom are on dialysis - at three centres.


Dr Ahmed said: “It has taken a long time and a lot of training and education but, thanks to the support of the Trust and the willingness of colleagues to learn, we now have a dedicated team offering a complete service, which has streamlined the patient’s journey.


“Maintaining good access for dialysis is a lifeline for some patients and SDIN has transformed the quality of care which our dialysis patients receive. It offers state-of-the-art, efficient and convenient care which is flexible and responsive to patients’ needs. It meets the needs not only of our current patients but is set up to meet the increasing demands of the dialysis service which is growing by 7% year on year.”


Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly. There are two main types:

  • Haemodialysis, where a line or needle is attached to a blood vessel in the arm or neck and blood is filtered then passed back into the body 

Peritoneal dialysis which uses the inside lining of the abdomen as a filter. A catheter in the stomach gently pumps dialysate fluid into the cavity between, toxins are drawn out from the blood vessels in the lining and the used dialysate fluid is disposed of