Doctor carries out a kidney test on urine

More than half of healthcare professionals who treat people with type 2 diabetes do not offer a yearly kidney test, according to a survey.

The Urine Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio (UACR) test diagnoses and monitors kidney damage and is recommended by health watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Kidney damage is a known complication of type 2 diabetes, and can arise due to damage to blood vessels as a result of high blood sugar levels. Left untreated the condition can lead to fatal complications.

The UACR test provides a ‘window of opportunity’ to assess where the rate of damage can be slowed or halted depending on treatment and lifestyle changes.

But despite this, 54% of the GPs and nurses said they did not carry it out on people with type 2 diabetes, according to the survey conducted by Napp Pharmaceuticals.

The test involves taking a urine sample, which is why some GPs believe the number failing to carry out the test is so high, as they can meet resistance from patients unwilling to give a sample.

Dr Kevin Fernando, from the North Berwick Health Centre, is a GP with specialist interests in diabetes and medical education. He said: “The kidneys are often overlooked in favour of the heart in the treatment of T2D [type 2 diabetes]. However, if you protect the kidneys, you can help protect the heart. Any sign of accelerated kidney damage, no matter how early, multiplies the risk of death.

“By making a small change to clinical practice to routinely measure kidney function and motivate patients to provide samples, doctors and nurses have an opportunity to spot damage early and positively intervene in those patients who are identified as being at risk.”

Other results from the survey included 79% of GPs and nurses admitting that they knew the test was recommended as best practice, while 75% underestimated the gravity of kidney disease and its impact on mortality.

After being informed of the risk of death, 85% of healthcare professionals said the chances of the test being carried out by colleagues would be higher.

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