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Digital retinopathy screening failures exposed

By Lilian Anekwe

Half a million patients with diabetes risk losing their sight because of the failure of the NHS to provide digital retinopathy screening, new figures show.

The latest Department of Health data, published this week, reveal 26% of people with diabetes did not receive retinal screening in 2008. Two thirds of PCTs failed to meet the 80% target for digital retinopathy screening, as recommended in NICE guidance.

The 80% target was set by the Government in 2003 and was intended to have been met by December 2007, but the figures, obtained by the charity Diabetes UK, show the UK has fallen way behind.

Simon O'Neill, director of care, information and advocacy services at Diabetes UK, said: ‘We are concerned that half a million people with diabetes are still not having their eyes checked using a digital camera as part of a local retinal screening programme.

‘PCTs need to ensure they are promoting and inviting all eligible people with diabetes for retinopathy screening, and provide a service that meets national quality standards as dictated by the National Screening Committee.'

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