Diabetic eye screening is a key part of diabetes care. People with diabetes are at risk of damage from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it is not treated. Screening is a way of detecting the condition early before a person notices any changes to their vision.
The demand for diabetic eye screening in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has increased by more than 100% since it started in 2005. There are now 72,400 patients and the Trust are expecting this to increase by a further 6,000 each year.
To meet increased demand, a screening model, which has more flexibility to change location and clinic capacity, is needed.
The local programme has also had an uptake rate that is lower than the national average despite a growing diabetes population.
To tackle these issues the Trust have remodelled the service by transferring diabetic eye screening from high street opticians into a number of dedicated NHS screening clinics across the county. This has been rolled out in a phased manner, and will include the entire county by 1 January 2019.
Patients who require additional optical services such as sight tests and spectacles will continue to receive these from their high street opticians, and so will need to make two separate appointments.
They appreciate this is less convenient for patients, however the service change has been made for the following reasons:
- A fairer spread of screening venues, regularly reviewed, which have been chosen to improve access for all people with diabetes across Staffordshire, with good transport links and availability
- In house staff training ensures that there is consistency in every aspect of screening for all people with diabetes across the county, and local and national requirements are monitored on a regular basis
- Patients will receive one-to-one support when attending screening and the dedicated screening staff can answer any questions they may have regarding their diabetic eye care
- In house grading allows quick decisions to be made in the case of urgent referrals and direct referrals can be made where necessary, meaning safer care pathways
Patients will be offered an appointment at a local clinic but will be able to change this to a more convenient screening site if preferred. The Trust will be continually assessing uptake and capacity rates.
They will also actively target patients and areas of greatest need by including regular ad hoc clinics to areas where our screening locations are some distance for the local population. These will be held in places such as GP Practices, local supermarkets and mosques. The Trust will specifically target patients in communities where screening uptake is lower and will provide interpreter services where required in order to encourage uptake from non-English speaking communities.
Following the changes from 1st October 2018, diabetic eye screening in Tamworth will only take place at Tamworth Health Centre in Upper Gungate.