Kidney patients spared long trip

KIDNEY patients in the far north of Scotland are being spared a 200-mile round trip by taking part in on-screen consultations.

Mobile video conferencing equipment has been installed in the renal unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and a satellite unit at Caithness General in Wick.

It means Caithness patients will be able to speak to a consultant regularly without making the trip to Inverness. It will also cut waiting times as consultants will be able to see more patients without the need to travel. NHS Highland renal consultant Dr Robert Peel said: "The number of people in the Caithness area who need dialysis or who are referred to see a renal specialist at the monthly outpatient clinics continues to grow and these clinics have become very busy."

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Renal consultants from Raigmore will continue to hold monthly clinics at Caithness General. Every other month consultations will be done by video link using the mobile unit that can be positioned alongside the dialysis stations.

Caithness currently has 15 patients attending the clinics. The 18,000 equipment means that every other month four hours of clinic time is freed up, during which period eight new patients or 16 follow-up patients can be seen.

The equipment will also enable nurses in Wick to discuss patients' treatment with the specialists at Raigmore and also join in Inverness-based training while still being available to care for Caithness dialysis patients.

The link has been installed under the Competitive Health Services project.