18 January 2007

Long waits for digital hearing aids

Hearing impaired Britons must be patient when they want to replace their old analogue hearing aids with new digital devices. The wait may be as long as five years in the worst cases. Elderly people are often put at the back of the queue.

The waits vary, but the queues are long everywhere, according to data from The British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologist.

In England the average waiting time is 60-72 weeks. Wales and Northern Ireland fare somewhat better with average waiting times of 36-45 weeks. The waiting lists in Scotland are the shortest, with average waiting times of 27-29 weeks.

"Most of these people are older, and in many cases very old. To have to wait five years for the chance to improve their quality of life must be the biggest health care shock in Europe", says Karen Finch, BSHAA president to BBC News.

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First hearing aids

The waits are long for first-time hearing aid users, as well.

Waiting times have increased in England three years running, reaching 45-48 weeks in 2006. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland saw small improvements and slightly shorter waits.

”Hearing services have to become a higher priority because hearing loss can lead to isolation and in some case to depression”, said Professor Ian Philp, National Director for Older People at the Department of Health to BBC News.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk, 17.09.2006

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