Secondary Care

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals secures funding for retinal imaging machine

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has secured funding to purchase a retinal imaging machine to help premature babies.

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Shveta Bansal secured £47,750 funding for the equipment from the charity Baby Beat.

The Baby Beat Appeal was set up in 1987 and aims to maintain and raise standards in preventative case and foetal wellbeing at the maternity unit at Royal Preston Hospital.

The machine, called a Retcam, uses a highly-specialised camera to take digital images of the retina in premature babies, who are at risk of developing a sight-threatening condition known as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) – if they’re below a certain birth weight.

Sadly, failure to diagnose and treat this condition in a timely manner results in blindness. Currently, premature babies and their families at our hospitals endure a difficult period of weekly retinal examinations and in advanced cases, multiple trips to treatment centres in Manchester and Liverpool for further examination and treatment; a journey which is often made harder for everyone involved, as the babies may have other medical problems that require intensive medical support at all times.

With this new machine, the Trust will now be able to take digital images of the retina on site and send them on to the treatment centres for a second opinion, avoiding a trip there in most cases. Serial images will also be available for comparison, tracking the condition’s progression and aiding in a resolution, which will be extremely useful when explaining the situation to families.

Shveta said: “We are very pleased to have been approved funding for the Retcam and would like to thank Baby Beat for all the hard work they do to raise funds and make this possible. This camera will enable us to significantly improve the service we provide for premature babies and their families, and for this we are very grateful.”

Karen Partington, Chief Executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is fantastic news! Well done to Shveta for delivering what I’m sure was an amazing presentation and securing an incredible amount of funding to enable us to purchase this new machine. This will have a huge impact on the quality of care we can provide for premature babies and their families, and will make a massive difference in ensuring a timely diagnosis and treatment.”