An Irvine woman dealing with sight loss has hit out at the government after delays left her job "in limbo".

Melinda Hanvey, 63, was diagnosed with the sight loss condition Rieger's Anomaly, with secondary glaucoma.

After asking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for advice on retaining her job as an income management officer, she says she has faced a “difficult few months” after their Access to Work scheme took four months to respond with any help.

Melinda said: "I applied to the scheme as I obviously needed help to stay in my current job but the I first heard from them was two weeks ago, so basically four months had elapsed during which I have been unable to work.

“My employers, understandably, are becoming impatient as they want a resolution to this.

"I have provided my phone number and am awaiting a call from them to discuss my options.

"It has been a difficult few months losing most of my sight and getting anxious about my future at work."

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) says Melinda’s case is just one of thousands affected by the delays as there are currently over 25,000 outstanding applications alongside a five to six month wait for a response.

The programme provides a range of support that is vital to allowing those affected by sight loss to stay in work as well as paying for travel expenses if necessary and providing awareness training for workplaces.

The Access to Work scheme aims to help narrow the employment gap between the general population – 76 per cent - and those who are blind or partially sighted -27 per cent.

Sight loss charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is calling for change and wants to see the scheme improved.

David Clarke, the RNIB's chief operating officer, said: “We are calling on the Department of Work and Pensions to take decisive and comprehensive action to cut the backlog urgently.

“RNIB has repeatedly raised concerns about their ongoing inability to administer the scheme since December 2021.

"Six months is far too long for people with sight loss to be without support with many having job offers withdrawn or finding their careers in limbo due to the delays.

“We have met with the DWP on numerous occasions to discuss the delays, but little progress has been made and the situation is rapidly worsening with 15,000 outstanding applications in December 2021, rising to 25,103 in December 2022.”

To reduce the high wait times, the DWP says it has has hired more staff to help process enquiries.

A spokesperson said: “Our priority is to ensure everyone entitled to support through Access to Work has their claim progressed as soon as possible.

“We have recruited additional staff to meet customer demand, which has already improved processing times, and a new digital claims process is being tested to help customers better track progress of their claims going forward.”