One in seven people in England suffer from hearing loss of some kind, and the advent of digital hearing aids proved of great benefit to many patients. The Modernising Hearing Aid Services (MHAS) programme to improve audiology services, introduced in 2000, aimed to provide NHS patients with digital hearing aids. But the demand from people upgrading from older models was not predicted, and this led to very long waiting lists and times. The Committee regards the Government's new framework for audiology, qImproving access to audiology services in Englandq (Dept of Health, March 2007, http://www.18weeks.nhs.uk/public/default.aspx?main=trueaload=ArticleVieweraArticleId=570) as primarily reiterating previous announcements. A main concern is that audiology is kept outside the 18-week referral to treatment target that applies to consultant-led services, which compounds the waiting time problem. There is a need to increase capacity, and the Department of Health should undertake an examination of the medium- and long-term demand for digital hearing aids. The Committee notes the variation in practice in NHS audiology departments, and believes many could operate more efficiently. They should examine the skill mix and levels of training or experience necessary, and look at more flexible approaches to service provision. The report also comments on the involvement of the private sector to provide additional capacity, and the entry into the market of others such as opticians. The private services need to be monitored and the quality of care assessed on the same basis as that used for the NHS.fifth report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence Great Britain: Parliament: ... Audiology services should, in future, be included in the Health Service Targets as their current exclusion from these statistics is a ... and seek to introduce a new level of operativeaat a technician levelawho could undertake the more routine procedures. 6. ... The Diagnostic Waiting Times and Activity template, introduced in January 2006, for collection of pure toneanbsp;...
|Author||:||Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Health Committee|
|Publisher||:||The Stationery Office - 2007-05-16|