A pioneering council led by kidney patients and healthcare professionals will be launched by the Minister for Health and Social Services Edwina Hart today (Tuesday, September 23).

The Kidney Wales Foundation’s People Like Us Council is the first of its kind in Wales and aims to improve kidney patient care by bringing together patients and healthcare professionals to discuss and develop solutions to the issues affecting renal services.

The Council, which will be launched at the Welsh Assembly, will meet three times a year and its proposals and recommendations presented to the Welsh Assembly Government and other key stakeholders.

It’s launch follows the charity’s successful People Like Us campaign in 2007, which focused on the issues affecting renal patients in Wales and helped thrust the shortage of organ donors further up the political and social agenda.

Around 10,000 people across Wales are affected by some form of kidney failure, while more than 440 are waiting for a kidney transplant.

Allison John, Chair of the People Like Us Council and a kidney transplant recipient, said: "After the huge success of the People Like Us Campaign it became clear from patients and others involved in kidney care and treatment that there was a need for a working body of this kind.

"Wales needs to take the lead on improving renal patient care and the Welsh Assembly Government has already taken many positive steps in this direction.

"Many patients across Wales though are still faced with ageing or inadequate kidney services, with too many having to travel hundreds of miles every week simply because there are no provisions for dialysis in their area.

"By bringing together patients and healthcare professionals the Council will aim to help make Wales a leading provider of renal services and offer top class health care."

Roy J. Thomas, Chairman of the Kidney Wales Foundation, said: "Our mission has always been to provide a voice to the thousands of patients across Wales affected by kidney failure and bring them together with health professionals to create a world class service. The People Like Us Council will help us continue to achieve this objective."