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Diabetes UK study finds diabetics are denied crucial kidney checks

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 29/07/2013

According to new research by the UK's leading diabetes charity, Diabetes UK, 25% of people suffering from diabetes do not receive crucial kidney checks.

Annual urinary checks, designed to detect early warning signs of kidney failure, were denied to some 750,000 diabetics in England between 2010 and 2011.

Early warning

Although diabetics frequently experience kidney failure, a check to detect the albumin protein in the urine can give an early indication of the condition. This gives sufferers the chance to obtain treatment and try to halt its development.

Without the check, people with diabetes are unlikely to know if their kidneys are damaged until the condition has become worryingly severe.

Recommended checks

Diabetics should have 2 kidney-related checks per year to determine whether their kidneys are performing correctly. The 2 tests are a urine test and a blood test. The numbers of diabetics who have the urine test are considerably lower than those whose blood is screened.

Diabetes UK is worried that the high volume of diabetics not receiving the urine check could add substantially to the already record levels of diabetes-related kidney failures. Between 2010 and 2011, renal replacement therapy was needed by 9,753 people with diabetes.

Samples forgotten

One of the reasons might be because a urine sample needs to be taken to the appointment and many people forget to bring one with them.

The charity is also pressing the health service to be more active in promoting and conducting the checks, and particularly in reminding patients to provide urine samples.

Diabetes UK says that more than 90% of diabetics are already receiving urine checks from their GPs. "There is no reason the NHS cannot achieve this across the country."

Devastating impact of not being tested

According to Diabetes UK CEO Barbara Young, kidney failure can have an "equally devastating impact on quality of life" as other complications associated with diabetes such as blindness and amputation.

Diabetics who do not have this check could be at an increased risk of needing dialysis and even dying early. Therefore the earlier a kidney condition is treated the better chance there is that its progress can be delayed.

Financial cost of kidney failure

Ms Young noted that treatment for kidney failure is notoriously costly, as it costs "10% of the entire NHS budget". This highlights just how important these tests are - not just for the individual concerned, but also the NHS as a whole as it is under severe financial pressure.

The CEO called on healthcare professionals to ensure people with diabetes understand the seriousness of kidney failure, to increase awareness of the importance of the urine test, then to act rapidly on any issues found.

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