Southport eye tests reviewed after concerns about staff

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Niall O'Donnell
Image caption,
The Trust said there was no cause for major concern

Eye examinations of 536 diabetic patients are being reviewed after concerns about two members of staff at a Merseyside hospital.

The screenings for diabetic retinopathy were carried out at Southport and Formby District Hospital between April 2009 and July 2010.

The condition, a diabetes complication which damages the retina over time, can lead to blindness if not treated early.

Officials are confident there is no cause for "major concern".

Niall O'Donnell, lead of the North Mersey Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme, revealed that a further 274 patients had already been screened as part of their annual review, with no issues found.

"We're confident based on the images that have already been reviewed - the 274 - and the retraining assessments we are undertaking at the moment, would not suggest to us that we have any major concern about a large number of patients - or even a small number of patients - being missed on this programme," he said.

Staff training

The screening examination involves photographing the back of a patient's eyes and grading the images on a scale of zero (no evidence of diabetic retinopathy) to three.

It was during a period of performance monitoring that concerns were raised about two staff and they were taken off grading duties "in the interests of patient safety", the trust said.

"We are now reviewing 536 patients' images graded zero by these staff between April 2009 and July 2010 as a precautionary measure," the trust said in a statement.

"This represents less than 3% of all images graded in the trust annually."

All images are held electronically so patients do not need to contact the trust for another appointment.

Any patient who needs to be recalled before their annual check will be contacted before the end of October.

The two members of staff will return to their regular duties after receiving training to remedy the concerns raised in the performance test, the trust said.

A helpline has been set up for any patient with concerns. The number is 01704 704070.

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