The Southern Highlands Renal Appeal continue their push for a dialysis service at Bowral and District Hospital

PAINFUL TRIP: Highlander John McFadden trying to get on the patient transport bus for dialysis with a broken leg. Photo: supplied.

PAINFUL TRIP: Highlander John McFadden trying to get on the patient transport bus for dialysis with a broken leg. Photo: supplied.

The Southern Highlands Renal Appeal has found that there may be as many as 25 people in the region who are on dialysis. 

The action group has been campaigning for a renal dialysis unit at Bowral and District Hospital for nearly 15 years.

Just a few months ago, the group put out an appeal to find out how many people were on dialysis. 

They have since confirmed 17 patients on dialysis but member Geoff Byrne said the group believes “there may be 25 patients”. 

“A number [of these patients] are suffering from advanced renal failure and expect to be on dialysis for the foreseeable future,” Mr Byrne said. 

What worries the Southern Highlands Renal Appeal members most, is the affect of travel on dialysis patients’ bodies and health. 

As there is no dialysis unit at Bowral hospital, patients are required to travel to Campbelltown, Liverpool or Fairfield at least three times a week for treatment.

Patients are transferred to the hospitals in groups of three via patient transport. 

On August 2, Mr Byrne witnessed the pick-up of a disabled patient which he said highlighted the urgent need for a renal dialysis unit at Bowral hospital. 

On that day, John McFadden was to be picked up in Mittagong for dialysis at Campbelltown.

Mr McFadden hadn't been advised of what time the transport would arrive so he had to call a fellow patient to get an idea of when the patient transport vehicle would turn up.

When it did arrive, it had already collected three other dialysis patients, two bound for Fairfield and one for Liverpool.

Mr McFadden had a broken leg which meant he needed a lot of assistance to get on the bus. One patient had to be taken off the bus while Mr McFadden was helped on, in total the process took more than 30 minutes. 

“The process was agonising to watch, as John was obviously in great pain as he first sat on the step and then hauled himself up and onto the seat,” Mr Byrne said. 

The patients were picked up between 9am and 10am and weren’t expected to arrive back in the Highlands until 9pm. 

“That they have to put up with this three times a week when they could attend a facility in Bowral is just unacceptable,” Mr Byrne said. 

The Southern Highlands Renal Appeal group has raised $700,000 for the creation of a renal dialysis unit at Bowral hospital. 

The funds are sitting in a trust account waiting to be used, however, Bowral and District Hospital general manager Valerie Jovanovic said a renal dialysis unit at the hospital was not on the cards at this time. 

“At this stage there are no plans to establish a dialysis unit at Bowral and District Hospital,” she said. 

Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell said he was aware of the strong push for a dialysis service at Bowral hospital. 

“I have had a meeting with the parliamentary secretary for regional health and discussions with the health minister and I look forward to providing more information after the issue is looked into,” he said. 

However, Mr Byrne said it was time for the government and South Western Sydney Local Health District to step up. 

“It's time area health provided the space and the nurses so a dialysis unit funded by the community can be commissioned,” he said. 

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