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Information and resources for healthcare professionals with an interest in living kidney donation.

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The health economics of kidney disease

In June 2023, Kidney Research UK published an independently produced report into the economic impact of kidney disease in the UK, alongside stark projections that could see NHS capacity for dialysis treatment overwhelmed unless the disease becomes a government priority.

The report, Kidney disease: A UK public health emergency, lays bare the growing costs of kidney disease, both in treating patients and in money lost to the economy by people being left unable to work due to time-consuming and gruelling treatment. Written by health economics specialists, the report was created with insight and input from a group of 30 contributors including leading academics, clinicians from across the NHS, and kidney patients.

KEY FINDINGS IN THE REPORT

The current economic burden of kidney disease in the UK is £7 billion per year, with £6.4 billion being direct costs to the NHS, approximately 3.2% of total NHS spending across the four nations.

By 2033, if projected figures for the number of dialysis patients are realised, those figures could rise to as much as £13.9 billion and £10.9 billion respectively.

£372 million is lost to the UK economy every year from missed work due to dialysis alone, a figure that could rise to £2 billion by 2033.

Using predictive modelling approaches, the report found that by 2033, the number of people in need of dialysis treatment could rise to as much as 143,000 – meaning existing capacity would need to grow by almost 400% to meet essential demand.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION?

Alongside the figures, the report also found that implementation of four healthcare interventions could save more than 10,000 lives between 2023 and 2033. One of these interventions was increasing rates of transplantation, specifically from living donors, which was actually found to be cost saving for the NHS, reducing the number of people on dialysis and saving patients’ lives.

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