06 February 2017

Becoming a NICE expert works Dr Ivan Benett, GP

Dr Benett discusses how becoming a NICE guidance team member helped him to find new ways to treat his patient with kidney disease

I’ve known a patient of mine, Pearl, for more than 20 years. Recently, she developed high blood pressure, and eventually diabetes. Between the practice nurse and myself, we managed to keep her blood pressure from getting too out of hand.  

A little while later, after one of Pearl’s routine blood tests, her results weren’t straight forward as normal. The tests showed a steady rise in a chemical called creatinine – indicating that there could be something wrong with her kidneys.

There are several ways I could have approached this to help Pearl – refer her to a specialist, careful monitoring or repeat the tests – but I wasn’t sure which approach was best. Without specialist knowledge on kidney problems, I wanted to know more.

I remembered I’d recently received an email saying that NICE was looking for a GP to join their chronic kidney disease guideline committee. Maybe this would help me discover some answers to treat Pearl.

After being offered a place on the committee, the expertise of the people I met there was impressive. I felt much more knowledgeable about kidney disease and it was actually a lot of fun.

NICE did all the hard work of digging out the evidence, and I was able to contribute from my experience of general practice to make the approach relevant to other GPs. In 2008 we published the first chronic kidney disease guideline, and I am proud to have my name on one of the NICE’s publications.

Being on the NICE committee ignited a new interest in kidney disease for me and it highlighted that the increase in Pearl’s blood pressure was being caused by chronic kidney disease.

You won't get rich doing NICE work, but you won't be bored. After my experience, I would very much recommend getting involved.

I’m proud to say that now, instead of referring Pearl to someone else, I can manage her chronic kidney disease myself.

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