Prospective management of end-stage renal failure within a conservative care programme

BMJ Qual Improv Rep. 2013 Aug 21;2(1):u201182.w727. doi: 10.1136/bmjquality.u201182.w727. eCollection 2013.


Progression to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is a major issue for heath care systems both clinically and financially. Given dialysis may not prolong life, and may indeed impair quality of life, alternative options for these patients such as conservative care are urgently needed. We appointed a dialysis charge nurse who had many years of experience of working with patients on dialysis to spearhead the newly set up Conservative Care Programme (CCP) in the Edinburgh Renal Unit. The rationale was to work as part of the renal multidisciplinary team to support patients and their families to make an informed shared decision whether to opt for dialysis or to follow the CCP. From the perspective of the patients, their families and carers we have received positive feedback since starting the CCP - thank you cards; phone calls both to the CCP Nurse Specialist and the renal unit affirming the positive experience patients had during the conservative management of their renal failure. Whilst continuing to provide the best quality of care to renal patients in NHS Lothian and Borders, the number of prevalent dialysis patients in our catchment area has fallen significantly over the last few years as demonstrated by Scottish Renal Registry data. These benefits are potentially applicable to other renal units across the UK.