Eye tests for diabetes patients to be ‘rebooted’

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Delays in Islanders accessing screenings, computer systems that were ‘not fit for purpose’ and issues in communicating results to patients and their GPs were identified following a review of the diabetic retinopathy screening programme.

The screening programme, which was suspended while the review was undertaken, is used to diagnose diabetic retinopathy, a condition which can lead to sight loss if it is not treated.

Health now intends to bring Jersey in line with the UK by offering annual screenings to all diabetic adults. It is unknown what proportion of the 4,000 diagnosed diabetics in Jersey previously received the screening each year.

The screening programme will also be widened to include children over 12 as well as women who develop diabetes during pregnancy.

Dr John McInerney, group medical director for Health and Community Services, said the system was to undergo a ‘reboot’ and patients would receive a letter inviting them to an appointment to undergo a retinal scan.

Today, letters were due to be sent to 360 patients, who have been identified as ‘high priority’, offering them an appointment within the next six weeks. Lower priority patients will be screened within the next 12 months.

Dr McInerney said: ‘There’s no need for anyone to take action until they receive their personal letter from us about their appointment.

‘However, we’d remind patients that if, while waiting for their appointment, they find they are experiencing any problems – such as visual changes or recent unexplained sight changes, even if they’ve recently been screened, or have a date for screening – please see your optometrist as a high priority.’

Patients, who have any queries can call a helpline that has been set up on 443322 or email hcsqueries@gov.je.

In the longer term Dr McInerney said that the free screening could be offered in GP surgeries with the images sent to the UK for experts to assess.

Meanwhile, it is thought that there are 1,000 Islanders who are unaware they have diabetes. Dr McInerney urged anyone who has symptoms of lethargy, weight loss, needing to drink more water or going to the toilet more often to contact their GP.

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