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New drive to improve GPs' skills on kidney disease

Plan to improve detection and management of chronic kidney disease

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 29 March 2012

GPs are being encouraged to improve their skills and knowledge when dealing with patients who have chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The RCGP has launched a new free e-learning course Kidney Health in General Practice produced in partnership with NHS Kidney Care, the national service improvement organisation.

The course deals with common dilemmas for GPs in identifying, monitoring and managing patients with CKD and it is free, subject to registration on the RCGP e-learning website.

More than 1.8m people in England are diagnosed with CKD stages 3-5 with estimates suggesting a further 700,000 remain undiagnosed.

The college said early detection and management could reduce mortality and delay the need for renal replacement therapy and associated lifestyle constraints and costs.

The information is designed to allow GPs to identify patients in their practice population to be screened for kidney disease, and support the patient through the natural history of the disease, from prevention, diagnosis, to review and management.

Other aims include:

  • educating at-risk patient groups about lifestyle and other interventions to maintain their kidney health and managing their medicines to reduce risk 
  • coordinating care with specialists for the more severely affected patients, for those with end-stage renal disease and for those at the end-of-life 
  • detecting and supporting the management of the health problems associated with CKD (hypertension, anaemia, renal bone disease) 
  • leading a multidisciplinary approach to CKD diagnosis and management and educating the practice team
  • championing the development of more integrated local services and prevention programmes.

Dr Ben Riley, medical director for e-learning at the RCGP, said:  “GPs have a number of important roles relating to the promotion and management of kidney health, in the consultation, in the practice team and in the local community.

“CKD is under-recorded in primary care and early detection and recording is essential to reduce cardiovascular events, morbidity, hospital admissions and death. 

“There are ways of improving the detection and recording of patients with CKD, by actively screening patients at high risk and by opportunistically testing some patients.”

Beverley Matthews, director of NHS Kidney Care, said: “CKD is common and life threatening. It has a devastating impact on people’s lives and a costly impact on NHS resources. Prevention is important, but early diagnosis, effective treatment and integrated care are vital to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and to delay progression to end stage renal failure which may require dialysis or transplantation.”

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