Education and training
Since 1989 the BRS has held an annual conference for renal professionals with oral and poster presentations, debates and guest lectures from international experts. Beneficiaries of BRS grant awards report back formally at conference, highlighting improved patient care. The event is the largest of its kind in the UK and now attracts over 1000 delegates drawn from all the disciplines involved in renal care. This is the most significant opportunity for continuing professional development for many of our delegates.
Planning the improvement of Renal Services
Members of the BRS Council have provided important multidisciplinary input, which has informed the development of the NSF for Renal Services and other national initiatives.
The BRS played a leading role in the National Renal Workforce Planning Group (2002), leading to the publication of "The Renal Team: A multi-professional renal workforce plan for adults and children with renal disease". This is a major contribution to defining the manpower skills, competencies and resources required in the provision of renal services. The BRS also led the renal community in the preparation of "Multi-professional criteria for monitoring the implementation of the National Service Framework for Renal Services". Along with patient survey material 'Criteria for Success', will allow renal units to audit their facilities, services and outcomes, as they relate to the five NSF standards. This is an effective tool in turning the aspirations of the NSF into tangible improvements in service provision and patient experience.
The British Renal Society Research Committee was convened in March 2001 with the aim of promoting multi-professional and multi-centred clinical research in the UK into kidney disease. Much research funding in renal disease is channelled into basic research, undertaken by doctors and scientists. Our programme seeks to focus on smaller projects with direct relevance to the immediate needs of patients and to the delivery of care by the multi-professional team. Obtaining funding for research of this nature has always been particularly difficult and we feel that by adopting this position, the BRS is contributing to providing for a real and otherwise unmet need.
In its five years of operation the BRS Research Committee has supported 27 projects at a cost of over £600,000. Limited funds have meant that we have only been able to support 20% of the applications, therefore much potentially valuable multi disciplinary research goes unfunded. Successful projects include:
These are areas relatively under-represented in grants awarded by conventional research funding organisations. Applications have involved collaborations between many disciplines including: nurses, physicians, surgeons, dietitians, social workers, counsellors, psychologists, and clinical scientists. The full list of funded projects can be found in The BRS Research Committee Report 2001 - 2005.
Training in research techniques is particularly limited in availability to non-medical disciplines. We believe that the involvement of these disciplines in research both broadens the research environment in kidney disease and nurtures the development of clinical practice in these areas. For this reason, in collaboration with the National Kidney Research Fund (now Kidney Research UK), we have awarded a Fellowship open to non-medical members of the renal care team, which has been highly successful over its first 2 years of operation.
The purpose of clinical research is to facilitate improvements in clinical practice. The outcome of a successful research project is dissemination of the findings of the study in peer-reviewed journals, and their presentation in professional meetings and conference. Five years is a short period in which to assess the success of our research initiative but already it has given rise to a number of peer-reviewed publications and many abstracts, which have been presented at the conferences of learned societies. This already represents a significant achievement and provides a benchmark for future efforts.
Three main funding sources help us to maintain our current level of activity. Our educational activities and our entire administrative infrastructure are funded from the proceeds of our annual conference. Our ring-fenced money for research is currently provided by industry. We are grateful to the Amgen Foundation who provided the initial funding for our Research Initiative and without whose help it would not have happened. The third component is fundraising which includes our 'run for renal' initiative, sponsored by Roche. None of these funding sources are guaranteed in the long term, and there is no allowance for growth.
The future for BRS
The BRS occupies a unique position in representing all interests in the field of renal care. We have a multi professional audience with a patient-centred agenda. Our success is measured by our ability to unite these constituencies and agendas in the interests of ensuring effective, appropriate and timely care for all patients with kidney problems. We have come a long way in a short time but there is much still to be achieved. Our future programme will seek to:
We now need to consolidate our funding base to build on the secure foundations we have established and continue to turn these aspirations into solid achievements.