Planning Your Holiday Dialysis Trip

February 21, 2019 - Posted by

Arranging dialysis from a distance is like getting a dentist appointment.  The closer the appointment, the less likely you can get one.  So the Number 1 Rule is to start early.

Public or Private (free vs pay)

Many countries have two kinds of dialysis centres, public and private.  Some are completely separate (like Australian and the UK); others have private chairs in public units (like in China).  Public dialysis is usually free to the citizens of that country, while everyone must pay to use a private unit.  So visitors like me usually have to book into private units.

But not always.  Some countries with public health services have signed reciprocal health care agreements, so that their public hospitals will cover any medically necessary treatment which may be required while in that country, including dialysis, at no charge.  Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with 11 countries: New Zealand, The United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Malta, and Slovenia.

EU (European Union) reciprocal healthcare arrangements allow citizens of EU and EEA nations, as well as Switzerland, to access health and social care services while in any other of those nations, on the same basis as a resident of that nation would and at no or low cost.

The schemes include the EHIC (European Healthcare Insurance Card), which provides access to state-provided healthcare for short-term visitors, and the S1 scheme, which allows ongoing access to health and social care services for individuals living abroad, such as pensioners.

(Post-Brexit the UK could lose access to these arrangements, depending on the final outcome of ongoing negotiations between the EU and the UK government. The two parties have so far agreed that UK pensioners already living in the EU will be able to use the S1 and EHIC schemes post-Brexit, but no deal has been reached on wider access to the schemes.)

In theory, this is great: cost-free dialysis while travelling the world (or a subset of it).  However, the reality is that in most of these countries, the public health system is super-busy all the time, and their dialysis units are usually operating at full capacity.  I have tried to book into public units around the UK before with zero success, so in the past, I have used a private unit (The London Clinic, £415/session) and limited my travel to day trips close to London.

9 Steps to Organising Dialysis

Here’s how we plan and schedule the dialysis I need at each destination.

  1. Choose suitable dates and if possible, approximate times, based on your travel plan
  2. Identify possible dialysis units in each country (public first, then if not available, private), in particular, get a contact name, phone number and email address (Travel Dialysis Review and Global Dialysis are good places to start.
  3. Send each unit an email (or call via Skype or Whatsapp), with your proposed dates and times.
  4. Once they confirm availability, send the details to your Unit Manager
  5. She/he will contact them, provide your specific dialysis needs to each holiday unit and eventually confirm the booking dates and times*
  6. Once you get tentative confirmation, book the flights and accommodation*
  7. Ask your Unit Manager to make a last check of the itinerary, to make sure you are getting enough dialysis – it’s easy to miss a day when arrangements are constantly changing
  8. Check if you need a Visa, ensuring your passports are valid
  9. Arrange some form of travel insurance, though I have found useful cover difficult to get in the past (more about this in a later post).

*Steps 5 and 6 tend to be iterative.  First choice days may not be available and they may suggest others.  This usually means you will have to rework your flight and accommodation bookings.  Eventually, they will all mesh and you will be ready to go.

Blister Packs for meds

Meds. I usually get all my meds packaged in blister packs at the local pharmacy.  This is a great service.  It saves me worrying about all those different plastic pill bottles and packs and helps minimise questions during drug searches (well I think it will, I have never actually been searched for drugs).  I usually take at least two extra weeks’ worth of blister packs, just in case I am delayed anywhere.

It is also useful to take the contact details of other dialysis units at each destination, just in case something falls through.

Next Time: 6 Hot tips for International Dialysis Holidays

Posted in: Travel Guides

Take part in the conversation!

0 comments. Be the first to comment on this post!