Kidney specialists from across the world will learn from experts in the North East after Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Renal Unit was awarded status as a training centre.

It is the second in the UK to become an International Society of Nephrology (ISN) training centre and the 17thglobally.

The status of ISN Interventional Nephrology Training Centers Recognition will be in place for South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust for the next five years.

The unit will welcome scholars who already specialise in this area of medicine. They will learn how clinical staff carry out procedures and treatments to help patients with kidney conditions.

The aim is to train them to provide better quality of care for dialysis patients and to pass those skills onto healthcare professionals in their own country.

Research has shown where there is a lack of interventional nephrologists, patients often miss their dialysis treatment because of vascular access problems.

To address this, they will be taught how to put in a catheter, such as a central or Hickman line, and endovascular procedures, which are used to treat diseases involving the arteries, veins or lymphatic vessels.

They will also learn nephrology Point-of-Care Ultrasonography (PoCUS) and how to carry out biopsies on a patient’s own kidney and a transplanted kidney.

Scholars registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) will be hands on within the unit, while those who are not will observe the work, but still be able to share their knowledge.

Two applicants have already registered their interest in placements with Sunderland Royal Hospital, one from Kenya and the other from Brazil.

The status follows the launch of the country’s first Interventional Nephrology PGCert course. This is being led by the Trust and is taught in partnership with Newcastle University.

Dr Saeed Ahmed is Clinical Director of Medical Specialities and a Consultant Interventional Nephrologist.

He will oversee the visitors as they spend time with the unit and will also travel to Pakistan later this year as an ambassador for the teaching programme.

Dr Ahmed said: “People will be coming from abroad to come and observe and learn from our skills here in our unit as we teach them what we do.

“In turn, we will learn about how things are done in their country as well as more about their culture and ways of working.

“By learning and teaching, we strengthen our knowledge and that will help us as we care for our patients.

“To be one of 17 centres across the world shows we are a global leader in what we do here in Sunderland and I’m looking forward to sharing our training with other parts of the world, as well as seeing for myself what’s being done to treat patients through the ISN’s ambassador programme.”

Dr Sean Fenwick is the Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations, as well as a Consultant Nephrologist.

He said: “We are very proud to see our Renal Team get this recognition. It’s an acknowledgement of the expertise and skills we have within our Trust and we know the care we offer is highly regarded by our patients.

“The fact this award follows on from the course we are running with Newcastle University shows we are investing in the future of this area of medicine, not just here in the UK, but internationally.

“That all goes to help patients lead better, healthier and longer lives.”

Once the five-year award comes to a close, the Trust plans to reapply for the centre status to continue to teach the ISN Interventional Nephrology Foundation Course.