Diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease in the UK has reached new heights, according to the Department of Health’s second Progress Report of the National Service Framework for Renal Services.

The main driver of progress in this area has been the inclusion of CKD in the Quality and Outcomes Framework for GPs, an annual reward and incentive scheme that awards practices achievement points on criteria such as the management of certain chronic conditions.

In addition, the introduction of a standard kidney function measurement has helped earlier identification of the condition, which, in turn, has had the knock-on effect of getting patients getting faster access to therapy.

£60m since 2000

Since 2000, £60 million has been sunk into renal services, helping to open two main renal units in Chester and Colchester in the last year alone, as well as eleven new ‘satellite’ units that enable patients to undergo dialysis closer to their homes. Six more of these are scheduled to open their doors over the coming months.

Launching the report at a new kidney unit at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary last Friday, Health Services Minister Rosie Winterton also took the opportunity to welcome the first ever National Clinical Director for Kidney Services, Donal O'Donoghue, “whose appointment [January 2007] demonstrates our commitment to continuing improvement to renal services,” she said.

“The importance of early diagnosis of CKD cannot be underestimated - if not identified and managed properly, it can lead to cardiovascular disease or renal failure,” O’Donoghue commented, adding: “A year of dialysis costs the NHS between £20,000 and £25,000 per patient - so managing the condition at an early sage is also highly cost-effective.”

“We are still in the early phase of implementing the NSF, but we are beginning to see some positive signs that, in many parts of the country, services are starting to change for the better,” he said.