Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


Evidence submitted by Cardio Analytics Medical Services (AUDIO 11)

BACKGROUND

  Cardio Analytics is a diagnostics service provider based in Plymouth in the South West of England. We provide a range of cardiac based diagnostic tests including Echocardiography, Holter ECG and Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring. Alongside these tests we have also introduced Audiology/Hearing Aid services. We are contracted by local hospitals and PCTs to carry out these services as well as providing a private service for those patients who wish to do so. In light of our diversification into Audiology, Cardio Analytics Medical Services arm will soon be rebranded as Express Diagnostics, a name which will reflect the broader scope of work we are now able to undertake.

  Having read your questions regarding Audiology services in the UK, our answers are as follows:

Whether accurate data on waiting times for Audiology services are available

  1.  As we are a local provider, our answer can only reflect our experience of the Plymouth area. By and large, waiting times here were largely anecdotal ranging from two years up to four years for an initial hearing assessment. As you may already be aware, Plymouth had a waiting list longer than most, hence the utilisation of organisations such as our own. The accuracy of lists will decrease the longer they become due to a number of factors. These may include factors such as patients remaining on the list who have passed away or who have chosen to "go private". We are also aware of cases where GPs will not refer patients because waiting times are too long, so the true number of people who require Audiology assessments may be even greater than that reflected in the waiting list.

Why Audiology services appear to lag behind other specialties in respect of waiting times and access and how this can be addressed

  2.  There could be many reasons for this but more than likely it could be that hearing impairment issues are not regarded as acute/life threatening conditions and therefore do not attract the funding/attention other areas may enjoy. Obviously from our point of view we feel that Audiology services (as well as many other diagnostic services) should be carried out as much as possible outside of major hospitals, giving them the time and space to focus on acute treatment and care issues.

Whether the NHS has the capacity to treat the numbers of patients waiting

  3.  Once more from our local perspective, we can safely say our own Audiology service would not be in existence if the NHS had the capacity to treat the numbers of patients waiting. I think it is common knowledge that Plymouth currently has a chronic problem with its Audiology waiting list.

Whether enough new audiologists are being trained

  4.  Recruiting Audiologists proved to be quite a slow process for us, due to the fact that there didn't seem to be many in the job market. If this reflects whether enough Audiologists are being trained remains to be seen.

How great a role the private sector should play in providing Audiology services

  5.  We feel that the private sector should be contracted by the NHS to a much greater extent. For example if a number of local providers were available on the Choose and Book system; patients would have a genuine choice of where to go within their local area, not just a choice of centres in their region. The introduction of a real competitive environment would increase quality and efficiency levels and would also potentially drive down costs for the NHS.

Jamie Hubbard

Cardio Analytics Medical Services

5 February 2007





 
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