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Ham sandwiches and custard creams have taken “out of the mouths” of kidney patients by the cash-starved National Health Service.

Health chiefs have axed hot and cold snacks for patients at the Mary Rankin Dialysis ward in St Pancras that is run by the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, which says it has spent £100,000 a year on sandwiches for its kidney patients.

Patients hooked-up to dialysis machines, often for 4-5 hours at a time and several days each week, have – since the service was set up in 2010 – been helped through the daily ordeal with tea, toast, biscuits and sandwiches.

A relative of a patient stressed that the care provided by the nurses at the unit was “beyond reproach”, but added that the decision amounted to an “end of kindness” in society.

“Surely the cost of a ham sandwich and a custard cream is not going to bankrupt the Royal Free? First the toast went. Then the sandwiches. Now, like a small mental torture they are now left with one packet containing three very small biscuits.

“We know about shrinkflation. Mum loves custard creams, they are her favourite, and when she looks at that last packet she enjoys them even more. But hey, there is no end to the meanness in this world, or should I say this part of the world which is, let’s not forget, the richest.”

The daughter asked what the famous nurse Florence Nightingale would say about the decision as she was “a great promoter of kindness as an essential part of care”, adding: “Bread is taken from the mouths of patients on benefits. Does the cost of sandwiches relative to other expenditures really justify their removal? I urge the Trust to reconsider their decision.”

The Mary Rankin Dialysis Unit, which opened in June 2010, provides a service that replicates the functions of the kidneys for patients with advanced chronic disease. Acute kidney failure occurs when your kidneys become unable to filter waste out of the blood. Patients are advised to eat high protein foods and avoid salt and processed meats.

The daughter said: “Sandwiches serve a vital clinical need in providing essential carbohydrates to prevent dangerous hypoglycemia, a regular occurrence in dialysis.”

The NHS has for many years been starved of funds with managers having to take tough decisions sometimes at the cost of patient care.

A Royal Free London spokesperson said they were providing sandwiches to 800 dialysis patients three times a week at a cost of £100,000 a year.

They added: “We are sorry that, since September, we are no longer able to fund sandwiches for patients receiving dialysis. “Patients were notified of this change in July and those facing financial hardship were advised on accessing additional support through the Citizens Advice Bureau. Refreshments continue to be provided to patients during dialysis.”

Source: Camden New Journal

Date: 10 October

Posted in News on Oct 10, 2023

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