After the Transplant: Potential Benefits for the NHS and UK Kidney Transplant Patients

Skedgel, C., Bulut, M. and Steuten, L.

Consulting Report
November 2021

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Up to 5,000 people in the UK require a kidney transplant due to renal failure each year, but only about 3,000 transplants can be performed each year and around 250 people die each year while waiting for a transplant. To close this gap, it is important to find ways to make better use of the organs currently available. This includes improving post-transplant care to increase the likelihood of a successful transplant and extending the duration of graft survival, with the ultimate goal of “one transplant for life”.

We estimate that ‘best case’ post-transplant care for a representative hypothetical UK cohort of renal failure patients could avoid more than 1,100 repeat transplants; avoid more than 100 weeks of dialysis per patient; reduce the quality-of-life burden by 20%; allow more than 3,000 additional patients to be transplanted in the short-term; reduce societal costs, including the value of lost productivity time, by almost £1.14 billion; and allow the NHS to reallocate £577 million to other healthcare programmes.  This represents a societal saving of almost £85 million per year over the average lifetime of the cohort.

Based on these results, we suggest the following objectives should be key policy priorities:

  1. Improving the ability of post-transplant patients to restart activities;
  2. Reducing wait times, including through increasing the supply of organs;
  3. Reducing the incidence of serious complications post-transplant, especially depression.

NHS initiatives and legislative changes are seeking to increase the number of organs donated and transplanted. Alongside these initiatives, we welcome the renewed focus by health systems on finding ways to make better use of the organs currently available, particularly through improved post-transplant care that can increase the likelihood of a successful transplant and extend the duration of graft survival, ideally to one transplant for life.  

This Consulting Report was commissioned and funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.  Novartis Pharmaceuticals were consulted throughout the development of the report and this post and had editorial input to the final draft. Novartis had no input into the structure or the parameters of the model on which this report is based.