Since 2001, the British Association of Retinal Screening (BARS) has been the UK's professional organisation for those of us who provide diabetic eye screening services.
Diabetic eye screening reduces the risk of sight loss among people with diabetes by detecting diabetic retinopathy at an early stage when treatment is effective at reducing or preventing damage.
BARS members include retinal screeners, graders, administrative and failsafe staff, programme managers, optometrists and ophthalmologists – in fact, anyone with a professional interest or involvement in diabetic eye screening.
BARS was founded by Professor Roy Taylor and Lillian Lovelock from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne screening programme, who were among the early pioneers of retinal screening in this country. It is a not-for-profit organisation, run by an elected council of volunteers who are drawn from a range of roles within the field of diabetic eye screening. Our aim is to support our fellow professionals in a variety of ways, allowing them to provide the best possible service for patients.
Education and training has always been an important part of BARS’ work. In recent years we have provided:
- tutorial days for those undertaking the City & Guilds Diploma in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening
- discussion days for those involved in failsafe and administration
- regular meetings for screening programme managers and team leaders
As the current BARS chair, I am keen for the association to play an increasingly active role in the education and development of screening staff. Career progression has often proved challenging but I am fortunate to be joined on BARS' elected council by a team of highly experienced and dedicated individuals who share my view and are willing to put in the time and effort required to make a positive change to the working lives of screening professionals.
With the support of the national programme, BARS is exploring the development of a new advanced qualification for those who have completed the City & Guilds Diploma in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening or the Level 3 Diploma for Health Screeners. Our proposal is for a new nationally recognised qualification that would aid career progression within the field of diabetic eye screening, and build on the diploma that already exists.
Understanding the needs of staff
To properly scope this project, we need the help of those already working in the field. We need to understand the needs of screening staff so we can develop a qualification that meets those needs and will prove useful and relevant.
With that in mind, we have put together a short survey to enable us to gather the information we need. If you currently work in diabetic eye screening, please spare a few moments to complete this survey before Wednesday 22 March. It is completely anonymous and should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
Thank you for your help.
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