Just a wee drop!

The North East Essex Diabetes service is urging patients to help identify early signs of  kidney disease by providing a urine sample as part of their diabetes annual review.

The specialist diabetes service, known as NEEDS, has raised concerns over the number of people who are not providing a sample or attending their annual GP review, which is a crucial link in helping GPs detecting the early signs of the disease.

Diabetes is the most common cause of Renal (Kidney) failure requiring dialysis. People with diabetes are over three and a half times more likely to need dialysis than people without diabetes in the general population.

As part of the annual diabetes health care review people with diabetes should have a blood and urine test to identify how the kidneys are working. The urine will be checked for tiny particles of protein, called ‘microalbumin’. These appear during the first stages of kidney disease, as the kidneys become ‘leaky’ and lose protein. At this stage, kidney disease can often be treated successfully, so this test is very important. The blood test will measure urea, creatine, and estimated glomerular function (eGFR) showing how well the kidneys are working*.

Almost one in four people living with diabetes in North East Essex have not provided a urine sample in the past year, according to local health intelligence data from NEEDS**.

It is one of eight health checks that take place at a patient’s annual GP review, which are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Other tests monitor blood glucose levels, Body Mass Index (BMI) and foot health.

NEEDS, which is delivered by the Suffolk GP Federation, has helped improve take up of these reviews, which are now attended by 69.4% of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in Colchester and Tendring. Before the service was introduced in 2014, take up was just 40.1%.

Adele Holcombe, Diabetes Service Manager for NEEDS, said: “Whilst people with diabetes in North East Essex are experiencing improved access and understanding of their annual review, it is easy to forget the importance of certain checks. Providing a urine sample can be a daunting thing – but it is crucial for identifying early signs of kidney disease.

“We are constantly encouraging residents living with diabetes to attend these reviews and often few of them are aware of the dangers before they talk to us, it’s important we keep spreading this message to raise awareness and attendance levels.”

Dr Karunakaran Vithian FRCP,  MA Clinical Education Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology for NEEDS , said: “The urine sample tests can pick up any traces of raised protein within the urine, which is often a sign of kidney damage. If detected and treated early, progression of the disease can be prevented or delayed.”

Those living with diabetes in North East Essex, who have not provided a sample in the last 12 months are encouraged to contact their local GP surgery and drop a sample in.

To find out more about the North East Essex Diabetes Service, visit www.diabetesneeds.org.uk