Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by Lesley Roberts (AUDIO 5)

  As a recent audiology graduate from Manchester University I would like to comment as follows:

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

  1.  I do believe the NHS has the capacity to treat the number of patients waiting if Audiology services are well-organised and well funded. I am recent graduate of the government-funded fast-track Postgraduate Audiology Diploma scheme brought in to increase the number of qualified audiologists and address the waiting list issue. After three months of job hunting however, like many other recently qualified NHS professionals, remain unemployed. Advertised positions are few and far between and certainly not available in the local area. My training was paid for by government resources in order to combat what was described as a national shortage of Audiologists throughout the county, and I was led to believe there would be plenty of options available to me upon graduation. In order to complete the training I left my full-time position (I was already working in an NHS Audiology Department as an assistant), so it turns out that I left my job to better my career and now find myself with no job at all! It has been my experience that positions are not being advertised due to financial constraints—departments are unable to advertise vacancies due to a recruitment freeze. This has led to a situation where positions that are advertised are often swamped with applications many of those willing to work are turned away.

Whether enough new audiologists are being trained?

  2.  I am one of the first of many new audiology students, the next band of whom will graduate in June this year. I think that the new University courses across the country are producing well-qualified and eager young health professionals and that the government should seek to ensure these graduates can find appropriate employment within the NHS (see point 1 above).

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

  3.  I have now heard that NHS Audiology Services are being considered for transfer to private providers. I know that there are currently vast numbers of people waiting for hearing aid services, but I do not think that the contracting out of hearing aid work to the private sector is the solution. A well run NHS Audiology Service does far more than the provision of hearing aids, and I do not understand why work needs to be contracted out when there are many recently qualified audiologists like myself desperate to obtain work within the NHS. I am also concerned that patients with more complex needs, or requiring follow-up treatment, may not necessarily be adequately provided for if too much resource is diverted to private providers. I feel that current NHS Audiology services provide more comprehensive treatment and best serve patient interest. NHS Audiology services should be given equal opportunity to bid for service provision and that newly qualified staff should be employed to combat waiting lists. The government needs to ensure NHS services remain at the heart of Audiology provision and should be allocated funding appropriately.

  Many thanks.

Mrs Lesley Roberts

 [recently qualified Audiologist]

18 January 2007

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