A new quality standard setting out how best to care for adults who need treatment for chronic kidney disease has been published by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The standard recommends that adults whose kidney function is progressively getting worse are placed on the national transplant lists within 6 months of their anticipated dialysis start date. Adults who have to start dialysis in an unplanned way, for instance if they do not receive a transplant in time or if they were diagnosed late, should continue to be supported to receive a kidney transplant.

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE, said: “For many people with kidney disease, progression can be prevented. But there are instances where the decline in kidney function becomes irreversible and a person will need life-saving dialysis or a transplant.

“Providing access to renal replacement therapy services prevents thousands of people from suffering avoidable harm or dying prematurely.”

Pre-emptive transplants should be considered as the treatment of choice if a living donor is available because this provides most adults with the best chance of long-term rehabilitation, according to the NICE standard.

Professor Leng added: “With survival rates better than ever, the number of people receiving treatment for chronic kidney disease continues to increase. Facing a long-term, life-altering condition can be very distressing, which is why it is so important that all those using renal replacement therapy services not only have effective treatments but are also offered comprehensive support to help them best understand and self-manage their condition.”

Chronic disease is common in the UK but it is not usually associated with symptoms until advanced stages. In some people their kidney function will continue to deteriorate and they eventually need dialysis or transplantation, collectively known as renal replacement therapy, in order to survive.