Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by Jane Deans, The Great Western Hospital, Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust (AUDIO 14)


  20 years experience working in both adult and paediatric audiology, and national assessor for student practical examinations.

Whether accurate data on waiting times for audiology services are available?

  1.  I do not feel that all the data collected is accurate as different departments use different categories which therefore results in different data being collected—non uniform data collection.

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

  2.  The introduction of digital hearing aids has changed so many patients lives for the better but the demand was not correctly estimated. In our department the waiting times only exist due to chronic under funding from the PCTs for digital hearing aids. This seems to be a historical problem, as it has occurred in other audiology departments I have worked in—but, it is more of a problem now with digital hearing aids being more expensive.

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

  3.  I feel that the NHS has the capacity to treat the number of patients waiting if were funded properly. Funding has been given from PCTs but this has been to buy the hearing aids NOT to pay staff—implying that staff should work for free! Once patients have been transferred over to digital hearing aids that waiting list should, in theory, disappear.

Whether enough new audiologists are being trained?

  4.  Yes there are enough Audiologists being trained but the training now takes longer (ie BSc) so where as in the past students, whilst training, had clinical input this does now not happen until their third year of training.

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

  5.  This should only be a temporary role, if at all, to help with the exchange to digital hearing aids. Once the patients have been exchanged they should have their care returned to the NHS. On talking to patients most do not want to be seen by the "private sector" as they have little faith in this system. We are significantly cheaper than the private sector (stated as being £300+ per patient without the cost of the aids) and already have our systems in place. Additionally, we have more experience of the "additional" problems patients experience (ie tinnitus, vestibular, general rehabilitation, support) so we infact do more than simply "fit" a hearing aid.

Jane Deans

Audiologist, The Great Western Hospital, Swindon & Marlborough NHS Trust

6 February 2007

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 16 May 2007