This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Extra funding for hearing impaired
An extra £750,000 of funding has been given to NHS boards across Scotland to speed up treatment for patients with hearing problems.
The extra money for 2002/03 has been earmarked for reducing excessively long waiting times in Scottish audiology centres or for the provision of hearing aids.
Making the announcement, Deputy Health Minister Mary Mulligan said:
"Hearing impairment is an issue which affects 15% of the population - many of whom are either young people or elderly. I am aware that some patients have been facing unacceptable waiting times for both assessment and fitting of hearing aids. This extra funding is to make immediate strides in alleviating these problems.
"In the longer term, I expect the NHS to recognise the importance of patient need for audiology services and plan accordingly. I have met with a wide range of groups representing the hearing-impaired in recent months and I know the strength of feeling that exists around the provision of services.
"The results of our national review of services will be integral in assessing future needs and what resources may be needed to meet them."
The national review is underway to establish whether audiology services in Scotland are adequate and consistent across NHSScotland. The results are expected in the autumn.
The extra £750,000 is to be used by Health Boards in this financial year - 2002/03.
The Scottish Executive review of audiology services is examining all aspects of audiology service provision and relating this to the needs of patients. It will include a user survey directly overseen by the Public Health Institute of Scotland. The review group has representation from users, clinicians, the Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research, and the RNID. It is expected to finalise its report this autumn.
A recent RNID report "Audiology in Scotland 2001" can be viewed at www.rnid .org .uk. It is based on face-to-face structured interviews with the head of each audiology service in Scotland. The information contained in the report will form part of the evidence being considered by the Scottish Executive review group.
The additional funds are being allocated to NHS Boards on the basis that they will be used for the following purposes:
- measures that will reduce waiting times for any element of audiology service provision without reducing the standard of the service provided.
- measures aimed at reducing the amount of time qualified audiologists spend on administrative tasks or on other tasks that could be carried out by less qualified staff.
- providing aids with specified minimum technical characteristics where, due to budgetary constraints, an aid has either not been issued or an aid below this specification has been issued.
providing hearing aids with additional specified features - where the patient has a clear clinical need for these features but has not been supplied with them because of budgetary constraints.