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Parliament: Hearing Aid Assessments

There was a recent question in parliament over the waiting times for hearing aids:

Adam Holloway (Gravesham, Conservative)

What the average waiting time was for hearing aid assessments in (a) Gravesham and (b) England in the last period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

It seems the current median waiting time is one year for this particular area (waiting time could be longer):

Ivan Lewis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)

The median waiting time for a diagnostic audiology assessment, including hearing assessment, is 52 weeks at the Medway NHS Trust, which includes the area of Gravesham. The average for England is 16 weeks.

Adam Holloway (Gravesham, Conservative)

Does the Minister think that the Government will hit their own target of six weeks to initial assessment by 2008, given that now some of my constituents are waiting up to 12 months? Has he thought about the distressing effect of such waits, especially on the elderly?

Ivan Lewis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)

The length of waiting times in the hon. Gentleman's local trust and in some others is entirely unacceptable. That is why we have a target of a maximum wait for assessment of six weeks to be achieved everywhere by March 2008. It is also the reason why, in March, I issued the new audiology framework, which is essentially a strong message to every trust in the country that they must reduce waiting times to the level achieved by the best PCTs, which is already happening in many parts of the country.

The debate continued with the suggestion of solutions such as mobile audiology clinics, which is already in place in Staffordshire.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Source:
Hansard
They Work For You

Further Reading:
18 Weeks Delivery Programme
Improving Access to Audiology Services in England [PDF] - March 2007
Improving Access to Audiology Services in England [PDF - tagged for accessibility] - March 2007
Improving Access to Audiology Services in England
[Word] - March 2007
Transforming Adult Hearing Services for Patients with Hearing Difficulty - A Good Practice Guide [PDF] - published June 2007

See also:
Should people be told to pay for NHS hearing aids?
Coming soon: will you be forced to get your hearing aids from the RNID?

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