An evaluation of the change in activity and workload arising from diabetic ophthalmology referrals following the introduction of a community based digital retinal photographic screening programme.
Scanlon PH., Carter S., Foy C., Ratiram D., Harney B.
AIMS: To determine how the workload of an ophthalmology department changed following the introduction of an organised retinal screening programme. METHODS: Information was collected from the hospital medical record of people with diabetes attending eye clinics over 4 years. The first year was before screening, the next 2 years the first round, and the fourth year the second round. RESULTS: The total number of people with diabetes referred each year over the 4 year period was 853, 954, 974, 1051 consecutively. The number of people with diabetes in the county rose by 1400 per annum. The total number of referrals for an opinion about diabetic retinopathy was 227, 333, 363, 368, for cataract was 64, 57, 77, 93, and for glaucoma was 57, 62, 61, 68. The total number of patients referred for laser treatment over the 4 years was 77, 124, 111, and 63 CONCLUSION: This study suggests that the workload in the eye clinic increases in the first round of screening but in subsequent rounds it does not fall below the pre-screening level, except for laser treatment. This may be partly because of increasing numbers of people with diabetes. With the introduction of a national screening programme, this has significant workload implications for the National Health Service.