Poor screening threatens sight of diabetes patients

Hundreds of thousands of patients with diabetes in England are at risk of losing their sight because PCTs are failing to offer retinal screening, the charity Diabetes UK has warned.

Retinopathy: screening shortfall
Retinopathy: screening shortfall

DoH figures show that almost a quarter of people with diabetes, 671,248 patients, did not receive retinal screening between July 2008 and June 2009.

Diabetes UK said that 86 PCTs are failing to meet national standards of annually screening 80 per cent of patients with diabetes using digital cameras.

London PCTs were among the worst performers, with Newham PCT screening just 18.7 per cent of people with diabetes and Wandsworth PCT only 37.1 per cent.

Simon O'Neill, director of care, information and advocacy at Diabetes UK, said: 'Despite government targets, people with diabetes are still missing out on this vital part of their care.

'This must change, not least because blindness can be prevented in 90 per cent of those at risk if treatment is applied early, and people are supported to manage their diabetes well.'

PCTs need to ensure they are promoting and inviting all eligible people to retinopathy screening, and to provide a service that meets national quality standards as set by the National Screening Committee, he added.

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