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News from AKPA


November 2020

Phone trial improves patient/staff communication

At the start of the Covid lockdown, staff at the Cambridge Dialysis Centre became aware that some renal patients were having difficulty contacting the Centre. In particular, patients who were isolated and didn't have access to computers or mobile phones.


Renal Counsellor Gill Chumbley suggested providing smart phones to make it easier for them to contact staff for appointments and to provide video consultations. She approached AKPA to fund a trial and we agreed to fund eight phones for a year. The phones were offered to patients and staff at CDC, Hinchingbrooke, West Suffolk and Kings Lynn.


Gill said: “More staff took up the offer than initially anticipated. When asked, they said that patients who already had phones preferred to contact dialysis centres by text, but couldn't because the main phone was a landline with no text facility. They also found the smart phone's video facilities very useful to for online consultations.”


She added; “Another good outcome, not anticipated, was that asking staff at CDC and the satellites to review patient lists to see who may be in need of a phone, proved a useful review to identify patients who were vulnerable and isolated. It is essential for the Renal Psycho-Social team and other staff to know this to be able to help. Now patients are already flagged up if more Covid restrictions come about.”


Comments from staff :

“Able to message a patient who is hard of hearing about coming in for treatment. It has made an enormous difference for those who can't hear well or who simply don't pick up the phone but are happy to text (the young ones!) a simple measure but really useful.” 

Helen Burns - Renal Anaemia Team


“Used photo messaging to be shown rashes,medication lists etc. - makes it possible to talk face to face without masks. Also used to contact people from home in evenings when they are more available and I have left the unit, and on my day off if co-worker on holiday and office unmanned.” 

Nicky Moncrieff - Renal Low Clearance team


“We have downloaded the Live Transcribe app. for communicating with a patient who is a lip reader. The phone is also useful when ringing patients who have call barring. It helps the staff to avoid using their own phones and giving their contact number to patients and family.”

Irene Pantoja - West Suffolk HD team




April 2020

Coronavirus and kidney patients

Credit: Shutterstock/LightspringAs you will know, all kidney patients are likely to be more severely affected by the coronavirus than the general public, so It is vital that they and their families take extra care with regards to the measures being given by the government and the NHS. Those with a kidney transplant are considered ‘extremely vulnerable’ and tighter guidelines apply.


We at AKPA would like to refer you to the up-to-date details provided by the Kidney Care UK (working with NKF, our parent national charity). The details are available from their website by clicking this link. You can also contact the NKF’s HelpLine at 0800 169 09 36.


Please look after yourselves and protect the NHS by staying at home unless a healthcare professional tells you otherwise.




April 2020

Where the Money Goes

As well as our regular support for patients, we have recently funded some important pieces of medical equipment which would not have been supplied by the NHS. We also provided funding for an important research trial and for patient comforts.


We funded a bladder scanner (pictured) for use in the Dialysis units at a cost of £7,000.


We funded four infrared fistula treatment machines at a total cost of £15,200; providing one each for the Cambridge Dialysis Centre and the three satellite dialysis units.


Four portable Ultrasound Scanners for fistula examinations were funded at a total cost of £23,000; also providing one for each of the four units.


We paid transport costs for patients involved in the SONAR haemodialysis fistula research trial at a total cost of £3,297.


We funded two dialysis simulators for training staff and patients at a cost of £1,270.


We paid for thirteen cushions for dialysis unit beds and chairs at a cost of £364.




January 2020

Fabulous food raises funds for AKPA

The proprietors of Lally’s News on Mill Road in Cambridge once again used their shop front to host a fundraising effort for AKPA during the annual Mill Road Winter Fair.


Their food stall attracted a constant stream of customers to the delicious selection of bread pakoras, samosas, chicken curry, paneer curry and chickpea curry. The chickpea curry in particular has become a favourite with locals who come back for it every year.


The family, Raj, Amrik, William and Saira Gharu, all pull together. With Amrik and Saira doing the cooking while William runs the shop and Raj sells the food from the front stall. They also hold a raffle with various donated prizes.


This food stall has been a regular event for many years, and a part of the family’s long term support for AKPA. William Gharu received dialysis for many years and recently had a kidney transplant.


However, this may be the last year as they are planning to move – if so, it’s nice that they raised the highest amount ever, a whopping £1,425.


Our thanks to all the Gharu family for their wonderful fundraising efforts.




July 2019

Patient Suggestion Leads to Development of Potassium Test Kit

• Cambridge University spin out company wins funding prize

• Potential impact on tens of millions of people worldwide

• Initial research funded by charities including AKPA


A fast, accurate and low-cost test for blood potassium levels, which can be used at home and has the potential to improve the safety, health and lifestyle of tens of millions of people worldwide, is being developed by Kalium Diagnostics.


Kalium, a Cambridge University spin out company has won the £25,000 Armourers & Brasiers Venture Prize to support the commercialisation of its materials science research.


Kidney diseases, as well as heart disease and treatments for high blood pressure, can be associated with potentially dangerous abnormalities of bodily potassium levels. Maintenance of potassium levels, within defined limits, is crucial to health as severe high or indeed low potassium can lead to heart rhythm abnormalities and sudden death.


“Currently, there is no medically approved, accurate blood potassium test available for use outside of hospital or centralised lab settings,” explained Professor Fiona Karet, a co-founder of Kalium, and Professor of Nephrology at the University of Cambridge. “This deprives millions of people with renal or cardio-vascular conditions, and their healthcare teams, of the opportunity to monitor and improve their health and well-being.”


“This ‘home test’ idea originated from patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital who were asking to monitor their own blood potassium levels,” said Professor Karet. “We took this on board and are now developing a test-kit that enables blood electrolyte measurement in a small finger prick drop of blood.”


The Kalium test kit will function in a similar way to a glucometer commonly used by diabetics. It will comprise of an electronic reader linked to a smartphone, plus a single use disposable test-strip. This kit will be used by patients themselves, giving them the type of control over their lives and diets that millions of diabetics have enjoyed for decades. It can also be used by GPs and specialists who need a quick and convenient check of the patient’s potassium to better manage clinical decisions. And companies developing new medicines could also benefit from having the device available in clinical trials.


The platform technology is based on miniaturised electrochemical sensing and will enable both healthcare providers and patients to obtain results instantly with hospitalgrade accuracy at the point-of-care or at home. This will allow them to take action to reduce health risks.


“In the community, patients are currently dependent on trips to a hospital or community blood-taking services and centralised lab-based testing, and these are associated with inconvenience and a delay in obtaining results,” explained Professor Karet.


Patient groups that can be expected to benefit most from a new home test include dialysis and pre-dialysis chronic kidney disease patients, as well as those with inherited kidney disorders. Others include renal transplant recipients on immunosuppressants as well as some patients with severe eating disorders and intestinal failure as well as up to 25 million patients worldwide on commonly used medications such as ACE inhibitors or diuretics, which affect potassium.


Kalium, was launched last year with the project originating at the University of Cambridge, in a collaborative effort between researchers in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and the Department of Chemistry. “The £25,000 prize will help buy critical equipment needed to address key technical challenges in commercialising the research,” said Professor Bill Bonfield CBE FRS, chairman of the Armourers and Brasiers Venture Prize judging panel. “Our prize looks to encourage scientific entrepreneurship in the UK and provides funding to help innovative developments like this realise their potential.”


The main initial funding that enabled the work to get off the ground came to the University of Cambridge from Kidney Research UK, with other contributions from Addenbrooke's Kidney Patients Association, Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, Cambridge Enterprise, The Babraham Research Campus Accelerate@Babraham programme, Accelerate Cambridge and The Wellcome Trust Developing Concept Fund.




 Newsflash, Our Newsletter


Newsflash is the award-winning newsletter of Addenbrooke's Kidney Patients Association. It is published regularly to help widely-scattered members keep in touch with their Association and each other.


Like all our activities it relies on the members themselves to provide the impetus and the material; so if a funny thing happened to you on the way to your dialysis centre or you have a useful tip on dialysing, if you have discovered a helpful holiday hotel or even have a horror story to relate, please share it with us. Contributions should be sent to


Click here to view the current issue of Newsflash (Issue 67, November 2020)





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