Veterans front of queue25th June 2007
The government has said that war veterans will be first in line for digital hearing aids offered by the NHS.
There are half a million people currently on the waiting list for an aid. Some on the list have been waiting for over two years.
Approximately 100,000 ex-servicemen and women are believed to have hearing issues. Before the announcement, ex-servicemen and women were given priority if they had hearing loss of 50 decibels affecting each ear. This meant that only those eligible for pensions also received priority treatment.
Veterans minister Stephen Twigg told the House of Commons: "Priority treatment applies to all disablements that have been found to be due to service, irrespective of whether they result in a pension."
In May MPs said that current health service provisions for people with hearing problems were not acceptable. In 2000 Labour brought in the Modernising Hearing Aid Services programme to make services better and to offer people with hearing difficulties access to digital hearing aids.
There was huge demand for the improved digital models over the old analogue models.
The Royal National Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has given its support to the statement, but said that waiting times must improve for everyone.
RNID chief executive Dr John Low said: "After serving their country and paying with their hearing, being first in line is the very least they deserve, and fantastic news for Veterans Day."
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