Travel for Kidney Patients
The following advice about Dialysis Away from Base (DAFB) was issued by the Sussex Kidney Unit, May 2021
Dear Sussex Renal Dialysis Patient
Now that Covid-19 restrictions are reducing and the Government has implemented the road map out of lockdown, we are all keen to make plans for holidays.
The Renal Association along with Kidney Care UK and other UK renal organisations released a joint statement in July 2020 with their recommendations about restricting dialysis for patients away from their base unit given the high rates of Covid-19 and risk of transmission.
They have now released revised guidance on 21.4.21 because the rates of Covid-19 infection in the community have reduced, the vaccination programme is well under way and the recognition that travel to visit friends and family or just to take a holiday is important for our well-being.
We will be following this guidance and would expect that all renal units in the UK will also adjust local policies to comply with the guidance. With your safety and the safety of other patients on the dialysis unit as our first priority, there are specific recommendations about testing and isolation which make this not straight forwards to deliver.
If you are considering holiday dialysis away from your base unit you need to be aware of the following:
If another renal unit agrees to accept you for dialysis, you will need to have a negative covid-19 swab before you go there. If this swab is positive, your planned dialysis may be cancelled at short notice.
It is also possible that at short notice we may not be able to recommend going on holiday or that that the dialysis sessions arranged at your holiday destination are no longer available. This would be the case if there are cases of Covid-19 in the Sussex Kidney Unit or in the holiday dialysis unit that you are planning to visit. We suggest arranging your own travel insurance for any holiday you are planning is very important.
On returning from holiday, all patients will need to dialyse in Covid-19 isolation for 2 weeks, this would be provided in your own unit (apart from Worthing which has no isolation facilities and you would need to have dialysis in Brighton). Therefore we will need to limit the number of people that can go away at any one time, as we have a limited small number of side rooms to isolate you on your return. Therefore you will need to get agreement from us that we have this provision to look after you and the other patients safely, before you arrange the holiday. We may not always be able to accommodate the dates that you request but will try our best.
If your holiday includes a visit to a dialysis unit in an area with a high risk of blood borne virus infection, isolated dialysis would be extended to 8 weeks.
After reading this guidance, if you are still interested in planning a holiday please contact your named dialysis nurse or holiday coordinator in your unit.
The advice about dialysis away from base may change over time and be dependent upon the number of Covid-19 cases in our area and your chosen destination.
Please ask if you have further questions about dialysis away from base.
Victoria Ingham and Sarah Lawman Renal Consultants,
Emma Gillingham Renal Matron,
Jenny Widgery Lead Nurse for Dialysis
Is your EHIC card still valid?
Following Brexit, which came into force on 1st January 2021, many people have asked whether their EHIC card will still be valid. The good news is that they are valid until their expiry date. After that, you will need to obtain a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) from the government.
The GHIC provides similar health insurance in EU countries as for an EHIC. This should allow, for example, kidney patients to have dialysis in Europe that is funded by the NHS under a reciprocal arrangement. It is not an alternative to buying travel insurance, however.
For more information about the new GHIC, visit the government website at
Finding a Suitable Insurance Broker
If you are a kidney patient, it can be difficult to obtain travel insurance that is reasonably priced.
SEKPA cannot recommend any particular insurance broker, but if you are willing to look around, there are brokers who are willing to take into account long term health conditions.
A good place to start is the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA), who have a database of brokers that you can search by medical condition.
Pre Existing Conditions is not a broker, but an information portal that identifies products for travel and life insurance suitable for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Their aim is to provide you with well-researched information to help you make your decision