MORE than a dozen patients at a Southampton hospital were left blind or with severe sight loss due to delays to their treatment caused by staff shortages.

They include a pregnant mother who was awarded £3.2 million in compensation after delays in treating an eye condition led to her going permanently blind.

An internal report into the treatment of glaucoma patients at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust found a series of failings.

These included staff shortages, treatment delays and overbooking of appointments.

A spokesperson for the trust said it was a “significant national problem”.

The review found that 4,500 glaucoma patients had suffered delays.

Of those, 34 were contacted for review and 15 were found to have been left blind or with severe sight loss.

Legal firm Moore Blatch represented another woman, a mother of three, who was left almost completely blind after the trust delayed her appointments.

Despite her deteriorating sight the trust failed to initiate a programme of follow-up and treatment and it was not until 18 months later that she was told her sight loss was irreversible.

The woman gave birth to her third child after she became blind.

Medical negligence specialist Vicky Hydon, a Partner at Moore Blatch acted on the woman’s behalf and won £3.2 million compensation for her.

She said: “The impact on our client has been devastating.

“It’s a complete tragedy and there is no reason why this should have happened.

“We are pleased to have secured our client with the compensation she deserves.

“The sizeable compensation reflects the harm that has been done and the support and care she will need for the rest of her life.”

The University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust did not respond to the Echo last night.

However, in a statement to The Times, a spokesperson for the trust, said: “This is a significant national problem and, like many trusts, we are working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement to address the growing capacity and recruitment issues in ophthalmology.

“We have taken steps to address the backlog in follow-up appointments and continue to introduce measures to make further progress, with all of our patients now risk-assessed to ensure those most in need are seen at the earliest opportunity.”