Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by Byron Carnell (AUDIO 26)

  1.  The target waiting time for initial assessment of hearing is 13 weeks however anecdotal evidence suggests this is somewhat longer. However, the waiting time for provision and fitting of hearing aids is on average 6-12 months. Audiology was originally excluded from the Government's 18 week waiting time target for treatment. The effect of this means Audiology slides down the priority list for funding.

  2.  The Modernising Hearing Aid Services programme and the fitting of digital hearing aids has meant an improved service. However, waiting times have risen due to a combination of factors, including increased demand both from people who need a hearing aid for the first time, and those wanting to upgrade to the new digital technology. So patients now receive a far better service but many have to wait a long time to get it. Children usually benefit from a priority arrangement and receive treatment quicker.

  3.  For faulty hearing aids open access for repair is offered, however if re-assessment is required then the waiting time is in the order of 13 weeks again.

  4.  The capacity to treat patients depends on whether the PCT will be in a financial position to recruit staff, and also whether sufficient funds will be available for purchasing hearing aids.

  5. To try to alleviate waiting times the PCT plans to use a private company ATOS in Devon from April 2007. This is intended to reduce waiting lists and help with reassessments. The role the private sector can play will be dependent on the resources made available to boost service capacity.

Byron Carnell

Chairman, Devon PPI Forum

7 February 2007

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