18 October 2007

Two year wait for hearing aids through National Health Service

This is the hard truth facing hearing impaired Britons. ”?Unacceptable', says the House of Commons Health Committee.

A half a million Britons are waiting for their hearing aids from the National Health Service, NHS. Some of them have waited for more than two years.

The House of Commons Health Committee has indicated that the supply of new-style digital hearing aids has been under-prioritised by the government and the local Primary Care Trusts.

No method to the madness

About seven million, or one in seven Britons, suffer from hearing loss. But currently, the NHS is only able to supply digital hearing aids for about 500,000 adults, annually, according to a report, Audiology Services, prepared for the cross-party Health Select Committee. According to RNID, another four million people would benefit from hearing aids.

Paradoxically, while some people must wait two years for their hearing aids, many NHS-trained audiologists are unable to find work in their field. John Low, Chief Executive of RNID, finds it appalling that some must wait two years when digital hearing aids can change the lives of many people.

18 weeks maximum waiting time proposed

The House of Commons Health Committee stated that audiology should be added as soon as possible to the list of health services covered by the Government's target to cut waiting times from referral to treatment to 18 weeks by December 2008. John Low of RNID believes this goal is unattainable unless more resources are provided to increase the capacity to provide more hearing aids.

Sources: www.guardian.co.uk; RNID

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