More hearing specialists needed7th February 2008
Leading specialists have called for an increase in the number of doctors in England who specialise in hearing and balance problems.
The Royal College of Physicians says that up to half the population suffer some form of the disorder at some time in their lives but often have to wait years to see a specialist.
Specialist services are only available in a few centres, with no provision in many parts of the country, it says, meaning people often remain undiagnosed.
An RCP report on the subject wants patients to be referred to an audiovestibular physician supported by a specialist multidisciplinary team.
The RCP is calling for a big increase in audiovestibular specialists and warns that balance disorders alone affect up to 40% of the population by the age of 60.
Professor Linda Luxon, chair of the RCP working party and an expert in audiological medicine at the University of London, said hearing and balance disorders often had a serious impact on quality of life but because they were not seen as life threatening, they are not regarded as a priority.
RCP president Professor Ian Gilmore, RCP president, said: â€œHearing loss and balance disorders are hidden handicaps with profound personal, occupational and economic consequences.â€?
The charity RNID warned that patients with hearing loss can suffer from depression and isolation.
Health minister Ivan Lewis said the Department of Health recognises the importance of early access to both diagnostic assessment and treatment for hearing difficulties and said waiting times for audiology assessment and treatment were falling.
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Title: More hearing specialists needed
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 5557
Date Added: 7th Feb 2008