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Concern over missing kidney tests

A quarter of people with diabetes have not been given a vital test to detect the early signs of kidney failure, a charity has warned.

Diabetes UK said 750,000 people were at serious risk after they failed to receive a urine test in 2010/11 to check for the presence of the protein albumin.

This provides an early warning of kidney damage, which is a common problem for people with diabetes, the charity said.

Figures from the National Diabetes Audit show 25% of people with the condition in England did not receive the test in 2010/11, along with 21.6% in Wales.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said it was “concerning” that people were missing out on a simple test which can slow the progression of kidney problems.

“Kidney failure might not worry people with diabetes as much as other complications such as blindness and amputation, but it can have an equally devastating impact on quality of life,” she said.

“All those people who are not getting this check are at increased risk of needing dialysis and ultimately of dying early.

She added: “As well as being tragic for the person involved, kidney failure is also extremely expensive to treat and the high level of diabetes-related kidney failure is one of the reasons diabetes costs 10% of the entire NHS budget.

“Healthcare professionals need to make sure people with diabetes understand the seriousness of kidney failure, increase awareness of why the urine sample is so important and then act quickly on any problems they identify.”

The urine check, along with a blood test, should be taken by people with diabetes every year to screen for kidney complications, Diabetes UK said.

Rates of diabetes-related kidney failure at at record levels, according to the charity.

Some 9,753 people with diabetes in England and Wales were in need of renal replacement therapy during 2010/11.

The group has now called on the NHS to be more proactive in offering and reminding people about the need to bring a urine sample.

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