Aims: To ascertain how closely services for the screening and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) were organised on a national level in 1995.
Methods: Questionnaires about the local arrangements for the screening and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) were sent to the entire consultant membership (n = 648) of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and to the clinical directors (n = 259) of neonatal units and other units caring for preterm babies in the UK in 1995.
Results: 568/648 of UK consultants (88%) and 15 non-consultant ophthalmologists and 210/259 paediatricians (81%) and 19% paediatricians in non-neonatal units responded. Thirty-one per cent responding ophthalmologists were involved in the ROP service: of these 64% screened babies, 34% screened and treated babies, while 1% ophthalmologists treated ROP but did not screen. Ninety-six per cent units caring for preterm babies had their babies screened for ROP and for almost 95% of the screening took place in the neonatal unit. About 8200 babies were screened in 1994; 277 developed stage 3, of whom 54% received treatment. Nine per cent (n = 14) and 5% (n = 8) treated babies became blind in one and both eyes respectively. A sessional commitment was identified for 9% ophthalmologists, but for less than half this was included in the contracted work programme. Sixty-five ophthalmologists treated babies with ROP, but only 10 treated more than five babies in 1994. Training needs were identified by 71 respondents.
Conclusions: Several aspects of ROP screening and treatment services require improvement. Hopefully, reducing the number of identified screeners would increase skills, confidence and the ability to recognise severe disease requiring treatment, and also facilitate incorporation of this work into consultant work plans.