What we did last year to...
Make it count.
Discoveries alone cannot end kidney disease. We’re urgently pressing to make sure research progress translates into better care, and that kidney patients have access to the support they need.
Driving change for better care
We have secured two important updates to the treatment guidelines for chronic kidney disease, published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Both will improve care for people at risk of kidney failure.
The first change is based on the findings of a study we co-funded, led by Dr Rupert Major at the University of Leicester. Using a new Kidney Failure Risk Equation, researchers showed it was possible to accurately predict patients’
risk of needing dialysis or a kidney transplant in 2–5 years, giving GPs a much better gauge for when to refer a patient to a kidney specialist.
Together with colleagues at the UK Kidney Association, we successfully pressed for the KFRE to be included in the NICE guidelines. It will mean patients can better prepare for their treatment journey, rather than crash-landing into dialysis.
The second change will help people from black ethnic groups receive earlier treatment for chronic kidney disease. Until the update, NICE recommended that doctors apply an adjustment when calculating kidney function in a person from a black ethnic group. This was based on past research, but we have been increasingly concerned that it was leading to overestimation of kidney function in black people. This could cause significant delays to diagnosis and treatment.
We worked with others to lobby NICE, and are pleased that the recommendation to adjust for ethnicity has now been removed.
Protecting kidney patients from Covid-19
Since the early stages of the pandemic, we’ve been at the forefront of funding research to understand how best to protect kidney patients from Covid-19. Our work helped to influence the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in its recommendations for priority additional jabs for immunocompromised people – such as those who have had a kidney transplant.
It’s unclear exactly how much the Covid-19 vaccines are protecting transplant patients, so we spearheaded a project to find out. The MELODY study recruited thousands of volunteers with organ transplants. Each was asked to take a test at home to check for Covid-19 antibodies – a sign of protection from the virus – after their third vaccination. The results will highlight which patients need to remain cautious and indicate what further measures are needed to make sure all kidney patients are protected.
We continued to work with charities across the kidney community as Kidney Charities Together, to provide consistent and evidence-based advice to people affected by kidney disease. When much of the UK returned to workplaces, we joined forces with other charities – in a coalition known as Safe At Work – to empower people with long
term conditions to know their rights around safe working arrangements.
Support for Kidney Beam expanded
During the peak of the pandemic, we funded the launch of a unique digital service for kidney patients. Kidney Beam provides on-demand exercise, health information and wellbeing classes and programmes. It has proved a lifeline for many hundreds of people with kidney disease, so we brought the kidney community together to pledge the financial support needed to ensure the service continues.
Our ultimate goal is for the NHS to adopt Kidney Beam into routine kidney care, and we must build a strong case to make that happen. That’s why we also continued to fund research to assess the impact of the platform on patients’ wellbeing.