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The Guardian messes up again, this time over CIs

OFT to look at £30,000 bill for ear implant.

Why does the Guardian keep getting lingo wrong, and Deaf people wrong for that matter? Check out the lingo and inaccurate reporting:

- "bionic ear";
- "fully repair her hearing" - yeah right;
- cost, why isn't "rehabilitation" included in the price, and very much contradicts the figures quoted here
- The Guardian in backing up her father's comments re CI, states 'daughter was being denied the chance to be freed of her disability'. paints the image that we are a bad thing. Also thinks the child is now going to be hearing and all society's problems will be solved!

The Guardian really is not a friendly newspaper towards deaf people. Only just ranted about their Miss Deaf UK in the Social Care section. They are nicely reinforcing some stereotype that we need care, need to be cured and we are all generally a bad thing.

If they did the same with any other minority, there would be an outcry.

See also:
Cochlear Implants Not Value for Money

Miss Deaf UK, in the Guardian

OFT to look at £30,000 bill for ear implant Polly Curtis, health correspondent Saturday April 21, 2007 The Guardian

The parents of a six-year-old girl who was born profoundly deaf are complaining to the Office of Fair Trading after the NHS refused to provide her with a second "bionic ear" implant, leaving them with a £30,000 bill for the operation.

Six-year-old Sarosha Byrne from Nottinghamshire will today undergo an operation to receive the cochlear implant to fully repair her hearing. But her primary care trust has refused to foot the bill in what her parents say is a postcode lottery affecting more than 3,000 children.

The case is now the subject of an OFT inquiry after her parents complained that Cochlear, the multinational company which makes the implants, is charging £5,000 more for the device in the UK than it does in other countries.

The cochlear implant costs £12,563 in the UK compared with £7,770 in Sweden. Parents here also have to pay £19,000 for the operation to insert it.

Dominic Byrne, Sarosha's father, said his daughter was being denied the chance to be freed of her disability."The first implant made a huge difference and allowed her to attend a regular school without any special educational requirements. She needs the second one to properly allow her to participate in classes and keep up with her peers."

The cochlear implant was introduced in the UK in 1989. At first people had only one implant, but increasingly around the world two are given. Campaigners say the second is to help people to understand the direction a noise is coming from.

Nottinghamshire PCT says that the case for a second implant is unproven, though children in other areas now routinely receive two.

Sue Archibald of the Ear Foundation, which campaigns for cochlear implants, said that 3,000 children have so far received single implants and 300 more did every year. "The evidence for bilateral implants is there; colleagues in Finland can't believe that we would only offer one. Two ears are clearly better than one."

Mr Byrne said: "It is a big sum but it is a very important investment for our daughter. It is a few years more on the mortgage for us but it is a lifetime of better hearing for her." A spokesperson for Cochlear said the company recognised that there is a postcode lottery for adults and children receiving cochlear implants on the NHS, because of a shortage of funding for implants and differing priorities of different PCTs. "Cochlear sympathises with the unfairness that this creates and the anger this causes patients. However, these matters are outside our control."

Comments (1)

Just come across this blog and, because the article concerns my family, I thought I would offer a comment. Quite simply, I agree with your observations on the language used in the piece. I don't like the term 'bionic ear' and have never used it myself. I would also never use a term such as "freed from her disability". That is not my phrase or my comment. The journalist has used it as shorthand for the benefits of cochlear implants. Finally, the journalist has also used the phrase "repair her hearing" which I cringed at and which is something that no technology, whether cochlear implants or hearing aids, does. My daughter is profoundly deaf and will always be so. I am very proud of her. Her cochlear implants are assistive hearing devices which provide her access to sound and, importantly, spoken language used by those around her. Bilateral cochlear implants, like bilateral hearing aid provision, give her the potential of localisation of sound and better speech perception in background noise. Deaf people are discriminated against in terms of resources and the scandal of the postcode lottery around bilateral cochlear implantation is the latest manifestation of this.

On the 'price' points you mention, I am not sure what you mean by 'rehabilitation' (it is itself is an odd phrase which I find unhelpful (deaf people like my daughter don't need 'rehabilitating' andy more than they need 'repairing')). You may be referring to the follow-up "tuning sessions" needed to fully programme the speech processor. The cost quoted by the Guardian includes these 'tuning sessions' that are needed in the first 12 months. Part of the other price difference between the figures in the Guardian and the costs in the Welsh link, is attributable to the fact that there is a reduced price for the second CI compared to the first. It is not as big a reduction as in Sweden or in other countries, hence my argument with Cochlear, but it does account for about £3k of the difference.

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