Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (AUDIO 39)

  The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health welcomes the opportunity to submit comments to the Inquiry into Audiology. The College's response to the specific questions is set out below:

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

  1.  As far as paediatric audiology is concerned, children are seen by different professionals, both medical and non-medical. Within medical paediatric audiology there are different grades of paediatrician, many working in the community where data is hard to come by. It is probable that only consultant waits are documented. Since the Department of Health started monthly waiting statistics about a year ago, this may be clearer for adults but not for children. Newborn Hearing Screening Quality Standards state a maximum wait of four weeks for babies failing the newborn hearing screen. New standards for paediatric audiology are in progress.

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

  2.  This point is aimed towards adults, but the lag is due to services not being consultant led.

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

  3.  There will be a shortage of doctors working in paediatric audiology in the next 5-10 years, as there is no formal training path at present and the old "community" structures are gone.

Whether enough new audiologists are being trained?

  4.  With the new degree courses there are now new (non-medical) audiologists graduating at Level 5. However, a non-medical audiologist should have Band 8 experience before embarking on work with children. Doctors will always need to be involved with children with deafness, because 40% of deaf children have other special or complex needs.

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

  5.  This question again relates to adult services, but we consider that on no account should children's audiology be assigned to the private sector.

David Ennis

Director of Policy and Standards, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

9 February 2007

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