OBJECTIVE: To explore the accessibility and quality of existing haemodialysis services in an urban setting.
SETTING: The study was conducted in Bangalore city, India.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 28 stakeholders including 2 nephrologists, 7 duty doctors, 13 dialysis technicians and 6 patients on long-term haemodialysis were selected from 20 dialysis centres in Bangalore city.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews. A thematic analysis was done using the Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Quality Framework of WHO and the Bruce's Quality of Care Framework.
RESULTS: The study found several gaps with regard to the access and quality of existing services for patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). The charges for dialysis sessions across settings displayed a wide variance. Patients often started dialysis services in private and later shifted to government and non-governmental organisations-run centres and reduced the number of weekly dialysis sessions due to financial constraints. Most standalone dialysis centres did not have the facilities to manage any emergencies. Most centres did not admit patients with hepatitis or HIV. The quality of care in dialysis centres seemed to be variable and most centres were managed solely by dialysis technicians. There were no psychosocial interventions available to the patients irrespective of the settings. Cost-cutting practices such as employing underqualified technicians, reusing dialysis equipment and using substandard water for dialysis were common.
CONCLUSION: The study highlights the need for more financial and personnel investments in ESKD care in India to ensure optimal care for the growing patient population. The study points towards the need for comprehensive management practices, including diet counselling and psychosocial support. While there are comprehensive guidelines on the establishment and management of dialysis services, more policy attention needs to be on effective implementation of these, to ensure better accessibility and quality of existing services.