National law firm Moore Blatch is calling for greater support for ophthalmology patients from across the Isle of Wight and the South East following a recognition by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists of the significant shortage of optometrist consultants in the UK.
The issue has been found to be particularly acute in Southampton, where recent failures have seen at least 7,000 ophthalmology patients at University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust not given follow up appointments this year, prompting trainee doctors to raise concerns with the Trust.
Of the 7,000 patients believed to be affected at Southampton, which includes those travelling across from the Isle of Wight, 4,500 had glaucoma and 2,500 had diabetes related eye problems. All were left at increased risk of going blind because their conditions were not managed appropriately.
38 patients have been identified as experiencing a worsening of their condition due to not getting follow up appointments. Whilst the severity of these conditions has not been made public, Moore Blatch has been instructed to investigate the systemic failures for a number of months.
The issue is however not unique to Southampton and across the UK there are a very large number of patients who have severely impaired vision which, with proper care, could have been avoided.
In response to the crisis, Moore Blatch continue to work closely with individuals concerned to ensure that appropriate support is provided to patients who may have been affected by the problems in the eye unit.
Maya Sushila, Partner at Moore Blatch solicitors , who represents patients of University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust, said:
“It is shocking to see the backlog of patients at University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust, which has had a real impact of the lives of hundreds of people in Southampton and the surrounding areas.
“Whilst the lack of resources within the NHS are well documented, this is never an excuse for poor care. We understand that lessons will be learned from the failures at University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust and it is encouraging that changes are being made within the service to ensure this does not happen again. We hope that action will be taken immediately to address the national shortage of ophthalmology consultants.
“Moore Blatch continue to support individuals who have been affected by the backlog to ensure they get the support they require now and in the future.