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Errors and quality concerns delay diabetic screenings.

LOST PATIENT records and concerns over the quality of screenings have halted and disrupted diabetic retinal screenings services in the National Screening Programme.


Hundreds of patients affected in Surrey have been contacted after NHS Sutton and Merton, and the Epsom and St Helier Trust lost eye examination results for diabetic sufferers. And, in a separate development, NHS Havering PCT in Essex has suspended its screenings following an assessment of its retinal screening programme.

A spokeswoman for NHS Havering PCT told OT that the screening programme underwent an external quality assessment at the end of the summer 'which highlighted some areas that could be improved upon'.

She confirmed that the matter was raised at a NHS Havering board meeting on Tuesday (October 20) and that the service has been 'paused' to enable the PCT to make improvements that will lead to a better quality service.

"Pausing the programme meant that although we are currently accepting new patients on to the register we are not contacting patients immediately for screening," she said. "Those that have already been invited to be screened will continue to be seen at their appointment.

"The improvements highlighted by the external quality assessment were to do with grading of the images, administration and technical (computer) issues. An action plan was implemented to deliver the improvements to the programme."

NHS Havering sent an explanation to optometrists, along with contact details for the screening programme manager for any further queries, and it is anticipated the programme will resume at the end of October or the beginning of November.

In Surrey the Wimbledon Guardian (October 7) reported that the records of 750 patients had been lost and the process of recalling them for a review will cost 27,000 [pounds sterling]. It also stated that the remaining 14,250 diabetes patients are to receive a letter explaining the situation and re-scheduling their next screening for the New Year.

A spokesman for both the PCT and the Trust said both organisations were working with the National Screening Programme for Diabetic Retinopathy to make improvements to the retinal-screening programme for local people with diabetes.

"It has recently become clear that a small percentage of the patients screened each year may not have been tracked through the screening system, and may need a hospital assessment or further treatment," he said. "As a result, these patients are being asked to come in for a review,."

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Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 23, 2009
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