NHS hearing aid wait shocking16th May 2007
A committee of MPs has condemned the state of NHS hearing aid services as unacceptable.
The health select committee said that 500,000 people are currently waiting for a hearing aid. Some of those on the list have been waiting for over two years. The committee has called for increased capacity and 18-week waiting list targets for hearing aid services.
Committee chairman Kevin Barron said: "It is appalling that we don't know either the extent of current delays or the likely levels of future demand for audiology services.â€? He called for the government to make this information known as quickly as possible.
The introduction of the Modernising Hearing Aid Services guidance in 2000 was intended to make services better. People with outdated hearing equipment could receive new digital aids. This led to huge demand from people with the old types of aid.
The committee criticised the lack of forethought about the increase in demand and said they were "appalled by the variability" of audiology services. They advised the NHS to instigate "one-stop shops" to accelerate services and to use the private sector.
Dr John Low, chief executive of RNID, the national charity for deaf and hard of hearing people, said: "No-one should have to wait more than 18 weeks - let alone two years, as in some cases - when digital hearing aids can literally transform their lives."
Health Minister Ivan Lewis agreed that waits were â€œunacceptably longâ€? and said: "By December 2008 all patients with hearing or balance problems that require care from a hospital consultant will be treated within 18 weeks.â€?
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Title: NHS hearing aid wait shocking
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 2867
Date Added: 16th May 2007