Kidney charities join forces with DPC to increase renal knowledge among healthcare professionals

Sandra Currie

Sandra Currie began her career in nursing as a ward sister in a mental health unit, before moving into the voluntary sector in 1990.

She spent several years building a fundraising career and worked for a major charity cancer before eventually joining Kidney Research UK as CEO in 2012. The same year the Kidney Charities Together (KCT) group came together, of which Sandra is also heavily involved in. Here she tells Diabetes Professional Care about the importance of kidney care and what she will be doing at the October conference. 

Can you explain what the Kidney Charities Together Group is?

The Kidney Charities Together (KCT) group comprises four leading UK kidney charities, which are Kidney Care UK, Kidney Research UK, the National Kidney Federation, and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity.

The KCT group came together initially in 2012. We collaborate on areas of combined activity or focus to help raise the profile of kidney disease. We lead on the UK initiative around the annual World Kidney Day (WKD) campaign, held in March.

Our overall aim there is to work with the UK renal community and provide resources and inspiration to empower smaller groups (eg renal units, patient organisations and individuals) to take part by trying to do something to raise awareness and promote kidney health.

For DCP2019, we have combined to support the event and the programme, and promote the profile of kidney disease within the community of health professionals who will attend.

DPC2019 has launched a dedicated kidney clinic, how are you involved and what do you think of the idea? 

We have worked with the organising team to suggest speakers and support the programme development. We welcome this increased focus at DPC2019 as we believe people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals need to be thinking about kidney disease earlier and be alert to the increased risk.

Almost four in five people with diabetes will develop some stage of kidney disease during their lifetime – the impact of this can be debilitating.

Diabetes is the single most common cause of kidney failure in the UK. Right now, there are 22,600 people in the UK who have diabetes and need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Because the implications of kidney disease are serious; the condition accounts for around one in five deaths in people with type 1 diabetes, and one in ten deaths in those with type 2 diabetes – we as a charity are committed to working with other to tackle this serious problem.

What are the key reasons why kidney care is not taken as seriously as it should be among diabetes patients/healthcare professionals?

We know there is less awareness in many settings where people with diabetes are in contact with healthcare professionals than some other associated risks and symptoms of diabetes.

Part of this may be around the current structure of separate clinics for separate conditions a patient may have. Events like DPC2019 can help to influence some of the new ways of working and communicating, that will ultimately improve outcomes for patients.

What can show visitors expect from the clinic?

An opportunity to learn more about the current knowledge and recent research evidence that supports it, on how working together across disciplines will improve outcomes for patients.

Do you think kidney care is often overlooked among healthcare professionals, if so, why?

There is certainly a lack of knowledge and low awareness in many people, of the significant risks. Some of the more familiar and visible symptoms perhaps remain higher priorities.  Hopefully this will change as we raise the levels of understanding.

How important is it that DPC2019 is trying to better educate healthcare professionals about diabetes-related chronic kidney conditions?

Without question it is vital. DPC2019 will be attended by many healthcare professionals who may not be aware of the significant risk of developing kidney disease as a person living with diabetes has.

So, with the launch of the new Kidney Clinic, DPC will play a vital role in educating all those involved and should be a step forward in improving the prospects of better kidney health for many.

Our presence at this conference is recognition of our will to work with all those interested in making kidney care a key part of diabetes management. Our overall aim is to work with interested organisations and individuals to prevent and reduce the number of people living with diabetes developing kidney disease.

We know kidney disease spotted later can result in poorer health outcomes, with people dying unnecessarily. We want to help people with diabetes and give healthcare professionals the practical skills, to spot the signs of kidney disease early and reduce the risk and maintain kidney health.

The Kidney Charities Together (KCT) group are exhibiting at DPC2019 on 29 & 30 October. Register for your free place, and see them on stand G1 at Olympia, London.

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