KIDNEY patients have been frustrated by a series of delays to a new permanent dialysis unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

The 24-station unit was first proposed in 2012 and was due to open in 2013, but the launch date was then put back until April this year.

And now, the Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients’ Association says the project is unlikely to be completed before the winter.

Chairman John Sagar said changes to the unit’s proposed location meant the contract had to be re-tendered, even though the same firm ended up securing the deal.

Patients are having to make do with a temporary eight-station unit in the meantime. Mr Sagar, who lives in Wiswell, said: “It’s extremely frustrating because this new facility should have opened last year, but there have been a series of problems.

“We think it should open in November, but the way things have gone I can’t be optimistic that will happen.

“The temporary unit works fairly well so there’s not a bursting pressure, but the extra spaces at Blackburn are still needed and it leaves no spare capacity, so if was full it could create an emergency situation.

“Blackburn with Darwen has the highest number of kidney patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria region and the numbers keep growing. We could get to a point where we are short of dialysis units.”

Martin Morgan, director of estates and facilities at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said work on the new facility, in the old antenatal unit, was due to start in April, but did not give an expected finish date.

He said: “The temporary eight station renal dialysis unit on the Royal Blackburn Hospital site has been operational for some time.”

Dialysis machines replicate many of the kidney’s functions, filtering the blood of harmful waste, extra salt, and water. The machines are often used to treat advanced kidney failure.