Sunderland Royal Hospital is helping train up the future leaders who will care for kidney patients after launching the only course of its kind in the UK.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has developed the country’s first Interventional Nephrology PGCert course alongside Newcastle University.

Five students, including one from the Trust and four others from across the country, have begun their studies.

They are higher specialty trainees in kidney medicine. The two-year course is expected to grow year on year.

It is also aimed at helping students prepare for a Master’s.

The course will develop skills to help set up and manage an interventional nephrology service, with some of its teaching based at Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Renal Unit.

This will include ultrasound and kidney biopsies. The students will help care for patients and also learn using simulation models.

Those on the course will also learn how to manage access to a patient’s blood supply so they can be given dialysis and the catheters used in treatment.

The team behind the qualification is keen to develop areas of research to help improve treatment.

Work is under way to set up a sister unit in Mwanza, Tanzania, which will offer overseas study opportunities in the future.

The course was conceived and developed by Dr Shalabh Srivastava, one of the Trust’s Consultant Interventional Nephrologist.

He is serving as the Degree Programme Director. He will be supported by Trust colleagues and Consultant Nephrologists Dr James Andrews, Dr Rauri A Clark, Dr Saeed Ahmed and Dr Sarah McCloskey.

Each will head up a module leader, using their own specialist experience to help pass on their skills to the students.

Dr Srivastava said: “This service is vital so the NHS can offer rapid diagnoses and treatment for patients in the care of our renal units.

“At the centre of this is what we call Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology, which we shorten to DIN. This is a service which cares for people who have kidney disease.

“This work is often led by radiologists, vascular surgeons or transplant surgeons here in the UK.

“This has led to inconsistent and sometimes inadequate training for those who want to specialise in renal care.

“It also means patients can wait longer times for procedures to be carried out.

“The aim of this course is to make sure we close that gap and prepare specialists to look after our patients now and in the future.

“As a Trust, we are delighted to be working alongside Newcastle University to deliver this course.

“It is an honour to be leading from the front, knowing we will be making a difference nationally and even internationally, and doing that here in the North East.”

Dr Sean Fenwick is the Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive, Director of Operations and is also a consultant nephrologist.

He added: “Our students will see first-hand the fantastic treatment we offer to our patients during their studies with us.

“While they’re working alongside our team at Sunderland Royal Hospital they will be on the frontline, developing their skills and learning new techniques.

“They will also see how a unit is managed and be able to build on that within their own services.

“They will also see how our highly-valued Renal Service supports our outpatient visitors, carries out procedures such as biopsies and what we do to help the people we care for manage their treatment.”

Professor Steve Jones, Head of School of Medicine at Newcastle University, said: “We are pleased to support this important new programme.

“Our aim is to improve the health of people in our region and beyond and this initiative will make a significant difference to the care of patients with advanced kidney diseases cared for in the NHS.”

The next intake of the course will begin in September next year.

More details can be found here.