Pride in our NHS: Vital eye screening programme in Sheffield among the best in the country

Scott Pickles, programme manager; Daniel Allsop, senior retinal screener grader; Tracy Sayle, senior clerical officer; Rosette Lumala, clerical officer
Scott Pickles, programme manager; Daniel Allsop, senior retinal screener grader; Tracy Sayle, senior clerical officer; Rosette Lumala, clerical officer

A vital NHS eye screening programme in Sheffield is one of the best in the country, new figures show.

The Diabetic Eye Screening programme has been recognised for performing above the national average for the uptake of the screening, timely issuing of results and the fast assessment of urgent referrals.

Diabetes patients, aged 12 and over, are invited for the annual retinopathy screening which helps to detect any changes in the eye caused by their diabetes. If left undetected or untreated, these changes can develop to problems with sight.

Data from Public Health England shows that the screening service, run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the fourth best in the country for urgent referrals within four weeks - 91 per cent of patients are seen within the time frame. This compares to a national average of 75.4% and a target of 80%.

Around 27,000 people are invited for screening in Sheffield annually, of whom about 22,500 attend – equating to 450 people per week being screened.#

Health bosses say a 'number of measures have been taken' to try and reach as many patients as possible, including 'extra clinics in the community, working with GPs to identify patients who haven’t attended' and giving patients 'reminder phone calls in advance'.

Scott Pickles, screening programme manager, said: “The screening programme is vital because it helps to identify any changes early before they reach the stage where they can become sight threatening.

“To achieve these results is a great tribute to the team, as it is not easy to keep making improvements and reach those patients who may not normally take up the screening invitation. Hopefully we can do even better next year.”

“The screening involves a quick patient history, vision test and photos of the eye. It is 30 minutes once a year which reduces the chance of sight loss. I would urge people to take up their screening invitation.”