A new dialysis service earmarked in Portlaoise is set to be a boost for patients and save the health service a substantial amount of money.
However, it could be the best part of two years before the service is set up because of legal wranglings over a separate service in Dublin.
The Health Service Executive confirmed that it has advertised a contract for satellite haemodialysis units for Portlaoise and Wexford. A number of responses were received from prospective tenderers and a tender process is currently ongoing.
Advertising the contract the HSE said each unit would be able to accommodate up to 40 patients initially with this number doubling within the lifetime of the seven to 10 year contract.
The unit, which may not be located in Portlaoise’s hospital, is being set up to meet the growth in demand for dialysis but also to save funds. Nationally the HSE says it spends €10 million on patient transport. It says having more units will reduce “patient social costs and HSE transport costs”.
Companies were invited to express an interest last August but progress slowed because of court cases over other contracts according to Martin Doody, the chairman of the Laois Branch of the Irish Kidney Association.
He is confident that it will happen and said the development will make a big difference to patients and will allow people to get treatment earlier.
“There should be nothing to stand in the way of this and all going well there should be a dialysis unit set up in Portlaoise fully operational within 18 months,” he said.
Mr Doody said the unit is important because the unit at the Midland’s Regional Hospital in Tullamore is full almost all the time. Upwards of 20 people in Laois require the service in Tullamore but many more go to Dublin.
“I know people who have to leave their homes at 4am in parts of Laois to go to Beaumont or Tallaght hospitals for dialysis,” he said.
He agreed that the HSE would save money because of the cost of paying for taxis to bring patients to and from their dialysis treatment.
When opened the HSE says the unit will be subject to the governance of its parent unit in Tullamore.