The Living Well with Diabetes project, a joint scheme from The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Action for Blind People, will benefit an extra 17,000 patients in Leeds, Salford and Liverpool following a £400,000 Department of Health grant.
Up to 90 GP surgeries across the cities will benefit from the trial which involves text message reminders for eye clinic appointments followed by phone calls from bilingual members of staff to reach more people from the South Asian community.
People from South Asian countries like Pakistan are up to six times more likely to develop diabetes than most, so are at risk of losing their sight through diabetes-related retina damage.
Helen Lee, RNIB’s evidence and service impact manager for prevention, explained that diabetic eye disease is still one of the leading causes of sight loss among working people in the UK. She said: “This project has demonstrated that by pooling resources and sharing expertise in working together we have been able to reach a significant group of people who might not otherwise engage in eye health services.”
The initial £100,000 pilot, funded by NHS clinical commissioning groups in Bradford, saw a 15 per cent increase in the uptake of eye clinic appointments among 400 members of the Pakistani community involved at 30 GP practices.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the pilot also increased the exposure to information about eye health and diabetes by nine per cent.
Greg Fell, consultant in public health at Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust, said: “We’ve found a way of implementing self care that actually makes sense to those people who have the condition.”
The project has seen the RNIB named as a finalist in the Quality in Care Diabetes 2015 Awards.