A study has found large differences in the proportion of people put on the waiting list for a transplant when they begin kidney dialysis.
In some areas a quarter of patients are put on the waiting list within two years of starting their kidney dialysis treatment, as their own organs begin to fail. But in others more than two thirds are on the list within two years.
This could not be explained by differences in the severity of illness, the study published online in the British Medical Journal found.
Once on the list the allocation of organs is decided nationally in order of need.
The average waiting time for an adult kidney transplant is 841 days but many people die before they receive an organ.
Children, who are prioritised, wait an average of 164 days.
There are currently 6,865 adults and 111 children on the UK waiting list for a kidney transplant.
The study from conducted by UK Renal Registry and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), based in Bristol, studied 16,202 dialysis patients from 65 renal centres across the UK.
The study also found significant variation between centres on times for inclusion on the national transplant waiting list.
Time to get on the list is important because patients who are put on earlier tend to receive a transplant quicker than those listed later on.
Those patients aged 18 to 29 were most likely to get on the list, with levels falling as patients got older.
People from ethnic minorities were also less likely to get on the list, as were those with diabetes.
Lead author Rommel Ravanan, Consultant Nephrologist, at the Richard Bright Renal Unit, Southmead Hospital, in Bristol, said “significant inter-centre differences should not exist in the time taken to activate suitable patients for transplantation or in receipt of a transplant once on the waiting list”.