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Minister considers Diabetic RetinaScreen interval change

The Minister for Health is considering a formal recommendation for changes to the Diabetic RetinaScreen (DRS) programme to alter the diabetic retinopathy screening interval from one-to-two years if certain criteria are met. At its most recent meeting on 15 October, the national screening advisory committee (NSAC) considered modification of the DRS.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent that “the NSAC approved the proposed DRS interval change for those with diabetes who have no retinopathy and no non-diabetic eye disease in two annual screens”. “A formal recommendation has been made to Minster [for Health Stephen] Donnelly.” According to a note of the NSAC meeting on 15 October, published on the Department website, findings were presented by representatives of HIQA who had carried out a scoping report on the issue. “The committee approved the proposed DRS interval change from oneto-two years for those with diabetes who have no retinopathy and no non-diabetic eye disease in two annual screens,” NSAC Chair Prof Niall O’Higgins, Professor Emeritus of Surgery, University College Dublin, wrote in his note on the meeting.

“I will write to the programme manager and clinical director informing them of the decision and recommending that (i) a communications campaign be put in place in order to reduce the number of people who might be lost to follow-up as a result of extending the screening interval (ii) an audit system be established for tracking of non-responders and (iii) the cost effectiveness of the programme should be subject to formal assessment in three years.” The NSAC was established in 2019 and has held four meetings to date.

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