What if?

In her song Big Yellow Taxi Joni Mitchell wrote “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” – I’d like you to bear that in mind as you read this blog.

Last week I attended the north west launch of PKD Charity UK’s Befriending and Peer Support project. Sadly, the event wasn’t as well attended as I’d hoped but every cloud has a silver lining and the lack of numbers encouraged the people who were there to ask questions and chat to one another over light refreshments at the end of the presentation.

So a few of us were chatting about the Befriending Service and the conversation moved on to discussing the provision of renal social workers and renal psychologists, how the provision was patchy across the country and how lucky we were to have both at Salford Royal. Then someone quietly dropped a bombshell, the renal psychology service at Salford Royal was under review! I was rendered temporarily dumbstruck! How could a service that has helped so many and is envied across the country be under review? Is there a suggestion that it doesn’t improve kidney patient outcomes and quality of life? Perhaps service commissioners think that any psychologist can do the job and that it doesn’t require specialist knowledge.

Without the help of two of the renal psychologists at Salford Royal I couldn’t have achieved my primary goal of returning to work after chronic illness and depression. I’d still be hiding away at home, avoiding social contact and gradually fading away. Their insight into the nature of my underlying condition, the fact that they understood the specific aspects of my treatment and the effect it had on me was invaluable. I know of other renal patients who have overcome needle phobia as they embark on haemodialysis, yet more who have been relieved of their anxieties caused by the bewildering physical, social and psychological changes to their lives. Can’t commissioners understand that by providing this specialist support it’s not just the patient who benefits, the service itself is improved? For example, an anxious, needle phobic patient can start dialysis quicker because the nurses on the dialysis unit aren’t delayed by having to deal with the anxieties and phobia which in turn makes them more productive.

taxi sign on blue abstract backgroundSo back to the title of the blog and how you can help. Next time you get 5 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, ask yourself “What if there was no specific renal psychology service?” and, if the service has helped you or someone you know, follow it up with the question “Where would I (or someone I know) be without the intervention of that service?”. I’d be grateful if you could then post a comment below about how the renal psychology service has helped you or a friend so that the renal psychologists have some evidence of the impact of their support.


The renal psychological service is a crucial element in the treatment of a significant number of kidney patients, we must not let it disappear because once it’s gone it won’t return.

4 thoughts on “What if?

  • It would be very sad indeed if this vital service disappeared. The renal psychology service at MRI I have found to be vital to me at various times over the past few years helping with not just renal concerns, but other issues as well. It is also very useful to have an appointment during dialysis especially for those with transport issues and not have an extra appointment in between dialysis. It is not a service that could be provided by a non renal psychologist as it requires a special understanding of how renal disease impacts on life and emotions. Another example of how in the long term it would increase NHS costs due to increased GP visits and possibly increased hospital admissions due to lack of compliance because of depression/anxiety. Don’t know where they expect people to get help if other mental health services are being cut.

    • My first experience of talking therapies was via community based psychologist arranged by my GP. It was comforting to be able to talk about my issues but they didn’t help. Contrast that with the help I got from the specialist renal psychologist at Salford Royal who gave me tools and techniques to help me avoid the dreaded spiral back into depression.

      It was like comparing a 50cc moped to a Rolls Royce.

  • I cannot imagine where Rob would be today had it NOT been for the specialist support given by the Renal Psychologist when he was going through years of fear, uncertainty and lack of self-worth. He had spiralled into a black hole when he was referred for their help. Understanding the psychology of renal failure is a specialism and psychologists who don’t have this training will no doubt try to support and help, but in a generalised way. Would you for instance go to drug abuse rehab if you were suffering from severe depression whilst not being a drug abuser? Would you expect to get antidepressants from your GP if you were suffering for example from an incident of mental trauma? I WOULD HOPE NOT, because you would be directed to a specialist psychologist in the specific field, where effective and quicker positive outcomes could be reached such as with police psychologists.

    …..AND I haven’t scratched the surface of the positive effect it has on the carers and families of renal patients in despair because of the support this valuable service gives which can enable a whole family to to see light at the end of a sometimes long and gloomy tunnel.

    PLEASE think about where you will have to go if you need renal psychology…..because as I see it , it is as important as the tubes that remove your blood and return it clean to your body whilst dialysing or the state of mind you try to live every single day without being a burden, which so many renal patients feel because of the hours and hours of dialysis or monitoring they have to receive.

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