13 November 2003

£20 million for hearing aids

Hearing aid services are to receive an extra £9 million investment from the Scottish Executive.

This brings the total investment in the battle against hearing problems over the next five years to £20 million, according to Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe.

"Hearing impairment affects 15% of the population and we must start making strides in alleviating the problems it causes," explained Tom McCabe. "That is why the executive's goal is that anyone who needs a hearing aid should be provided with one that fully meets their clinical needs. They should have it properly fitted and receive comprehensive support to help them make best use of the aid."

In Scotland, more than 170.000 people depend on hearing aids from the National Health Service (NHS).

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) welcomed the announcement and said it would help provide more people with digital hearing aids. Maggie Williams, director of RNID Scotland, said: "It is excellent news that the executive is injecting this additional funding. It will ensure patients benefit from advanced digital hearing aid technology provided by a modernised health service." The RNID believes digital hearing aids can improve a patient's hearing by as much as 40%.

In addition to the £9 million, the executive granted £8 million in February, 2003, in order to implement the recommendations of a report from the Public Health Institute of Scotland (PHIS) on NHS audiology services. NHS Scotland also received £1.5m in January and £ 750,000 in April, 2002 for audiology services.

Source: BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk 01.10.2003

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