Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by Meenaxi Patel, Northwick Park Hospital (AUDIO 37)

  I am Senior Audiologist at Northwick Park Hospital. My comments on the questions that the Health Committee Press are going to be looking into are:

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

  Our department has had a turn over of clerical staff.

  Proper training was not given to the relevant employees who put these referrals onto the audit base.

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

  We already had a six-month waiting time for patients to be assessed for hearing aid fittings prior to going digital. Enough staff were not recruited to addresses the problem, which was highlighted through a project, carried out by the government, called "Access to Work".

  There has been an increase of ENT clinics. Clear guidelines and written protocols were not introduced to all professionals.

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

  Yes there is capacity to treat the patients, if it is planned properly. Offering staff the same payment that PPP are charging or locum rate for weekend and evening clinics. Opening out the work to audiologists at other hospitals.

Whether enough new audiologists are being trained?

  I do not know if there is enough audiologists trained however we have been training students (two) for the past two years as part of their degree course.

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

  We have been working with PPP and are at the tail end of the assigned work. Our experience has been not one of satisfaction. Some patients had been discharged when they had not had a follow up appointment. When some patients cancelled their follow appointments they were not offered another one. Patients would be visiting our department for modification to their moulds or fine-tuning within weeks of having received their hearing aids. On some occasions we have seen moulds with hard tubing. I would like our department to be responsible for monitoring the work PPP carried out on our patients to ensure that our protocols and are followed and a quality of service is delivered.

  If PPP is something that is going to be part of the NHS hearing aid work then the patients that are being seen by them should be their sole responsibility, ie GP's refer patients directly to them.

Meenaxi Patel

Senior Audiologist, Northwick Park Hospital

[comments made as an individual]

8 February 2007

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