Wales & West Utilities is launching a £2.5 million collaboration with Kidney Care UK.

The partnership will provide specialised support to nearly 18,000 UK residents suffering from kidney failure.

The bespoke scheme promises to help the vulnerable afflicted with chronic kidney disease (CKD), specifically addressing fuel poverty.

At present, 30,074 individuals across the UK rely on dialysis to manage advanced kidney disease, with almost 1,800 residing in Wales.

Dialysis necessitates a routine of three to four six-hour long hospital sessions weekly, plus the added stress of commuting.

Owing to time limitations and health impacts associated with CKD treatment, only 26 per cent of dialysis patients hold full-time jobs.

This reality, coupled with increasing living costs, results in numerous kidney failure patients living in relative poverty.

The two-year pilot project aims to offer a comprehensive array of services, including benefit entitlement assistance, welfare support and specialised financial and energy advice through face-to-face consultations.

This service is designed to optimise financial support and enhance energy and carbon monoxide consciousness.

Laurie Cuthbert, director of fundraising, marketing and communications at Kidney Care UK, said: "We are pleased to be working with Wales & West Utilities as part of a transformational partnership with the Gas Distribution Networks across the UK to support almost 1,800 vulnerable kidney patients who are in immediate need of support.

"Philanthropic investment from our partners is enabling Kidney Care UK to increase its direct, on-the-ground support to thousands of dialysis patients, delivering tangible welfare and wellbeing benefits at a time when it is more important than ever."

The scheme is an expansion of The Kidney Support and Welfare Wales project initiated last year, which aligned Wales & West Utilities, Kidney Care UK and NHS health boards in Wales to provide free, impartial welfare-centric advice and support.

Since its 2023 launch, this service has assisted 623 patients, nearly half of the haemodialysis population in Wales, resulting in £115,870 in individual financial gains.

The extended programme will allow dialysis patients UK-wide to access a dedicated, personal, face-to-face support service, delivered by expert patient support and advocacy officers.

This service will help patients to claim all the benefits and welfare support that they are entitled to.

Sophie Shorney, VCMA manager at Wales & West Utilities, said: "We are delighted that the initial project positively impacted so many kidney failure patients in Wales that we have been able to lead this project and take it further to provide specialist support to other patients across the UK.

"This initiative provides a real opportunity to improve the quality of life for people with kidney disease and we hope that this unique partnership will continue to impact many of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities across the UK."

Between April 2021 and March 2026, Wales & West Utilities will invest £25m on projects supporting vulnerable consumers and raising awareness of the fatal 'silent killer'–carbon monoxide.

Funding will be allocated through the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), with 75 per cent dedicated to projects applicable to Wales and southwest England, while the remaining 25 per cent will be directed to collaborative ventures with other gas networks across the UK.