One of SWTIRR’s areas of interest is improving primary care for renal patients. Primary care describes the health services that play a central role in the local community, such as family doctors (GPs) and pharmacists. The government provides “primary care” through Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). PCTs control local healthcare and a total of 152 PCTs cover all parts of England and receive budgets directly from the Department of Health. So rather than supplying the care we are interested in carrying out research into the best way of providing primary care and as you would expect from SWTIRR this is done through a scientific approach. Many people think of a scientific approach as involving laboratory research but there are many different ways of taking a scientific approach to research. The fundamental principles of a scientific approach are based on gathering objective empirical and measurable evidence; examining the evidence in a clear systematic and logical way that allow you to make theories or predictions to explain the data and therefore be able to predict how something works.
Recent figures suggest that chronic kidney disease could affect between 5 and 10 % of the population. Chronic kidney disease can not only lead to kidney failure but also death from cardiovascular diseases. Questions arise about how we can best help people with chronic kidney disease. If this can be done at the level of primary care it will be far better than having to wait till people arrive in hospital.
There are many things which influence whether chronic kidney disease develops into kidney failure. Currently we only partially understand some of these things. One questions is can we use the knowledge we currently have to improve primary care of renal patients, while at the same time continuing our ground breaking laboratory based research which will give us even more knowledge about the mechanisms of the disease.
SWTIRR is interested in carrying out research into aspects of primary care such as patient education and the care plans provided by PCTs.
If pre-dialysis patients are given specialised education programmes will this help them understand their disease better and therefore help them look after themselves better and slow the progression of the disease and consequently prevent or delay them needing dialysis ?
If you get different PCTs to carry out different care programmes such as frequency of urine testing and blood pressure testing and using newer measures of measuring kidney function will this improve the overall care of the renal patients and end up with fewer progressing to dialysis?
These are important questions but difficult to answer with out very carefully planned and sometimes very lengthy studies. But they are important and SWTIRR intends to look at these and similar issues of primary care.