…By Larry John for TDPel Media.
A man from south-west London, Andrew Freeman, shares his experience of how kidney disease devastated his employment prospects and plunged him into a financial crisis.
As a new report highlights the potential cost of kidney disease to the UK economy, Freeman urges employers to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by patients.
The Growing Burden of Kidney Disease in London
According to Kidney Research UK, approximately 643,000 individuals in London currently live with kidney disease, with 289,000 of them classified under the most severe stages (3-5).
The charity warns that the number of people affected by this condition will increase in the future due to rising levels of obesity and high blood pressure.
Chronic Kidney Disease: Symptoms and Diagnosis
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive condition that worsens over time.
Initially, it often presents no noticeable symptoms, but it can cause weight loss, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Andrew Freeman, who had successfully managed his type 1 diabetes for over two decades, discovered a problem with his kidney function during a routine check-up, leading to a decline in his health.
A Personal Journey: Diagnosis and Treatment
Freeman recounts his journey from experiencing fatigue and difficulty eating to the point where he required his wife’s assistance during hospital visits due to confusion.
The renal team at his local hospital informed him that he was in kidney failure, necessitating emergency dialysis.
After an unsuccessful initial treatment, he was recommended to undergo dialysis at home.
Employment Challenges and Financial Crisis
The frequent hospital appointments strained Freeman’s relationship with his employer and jeopardized his position, compelling him to transition to self-employment.
In 2019, he received a life-changing transplant opportunity, but a series of sepsis episodes prolonged his hospital stay until September.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic subsequently hit, causing him to lose all his clients and plunging him into a dire financial situation.
Despite applying for state benefits, Freeman was deemed ineligible due to his self-employment status, further exacerbating his family’s struggle.
The Call for Employer Understanding and Support
Throughout his job applications, Freeman remained open about his condition and previous surgery but found it difficult to progress beyond the initial interview stage.
He believes that an earlier diagnosis would have prevented the financial hardships he faced.
Freeman urges employers to comprehend the physical and financial challenges faced by kidney patients and highlights the need for more support.
The Impact on Healthcare and the Urgent Need for Action
Kidney patients require frequent hospital visits and invasive treatments, significantly impacting their quality of life and productivity.
Kidney disease costs the NHS £6.4 billion annually, representing 3.2% of total NHS spending across the UK.
Kidney Research UK warns that the existing capacity to treat the 30,000 adults and children on dialysis is already stretched to its limits.
Projections indicate that by 2033, the number of individuals requiring treatment may rise to 143,000, necessitating a nearly 400% increase in capacity to meet the demand.
Urgent Action Required to Avert a Public Health Emergency
Sandra Currie, the chief executive of Kidney Research UK, underscores the gravity of the situation, describing kidney disease as a public health emergency for the UK.
Without serious intervention, the NHS risks being overwhelmed by the increasing demand for kidney disease treatment.
The figures presented serve as a stark warning, urging immediate action to address this pressing issue.