Sandra Gidley (Shadow Minister, Health; Romsey, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) what funding has been made available to each NHS trust to transfer patients from an analogue hearing aid to a digital hearing aid;
(2) what assessments she has made of increasing the use of registered hearing aid dispensers to improve access to digital hearing aids; and if she will make a statement.
Ivan Lewis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health; Bury South, Labour)
From 2000 to 2005, funding of £125 million for the provision of digital hearing aids was ring-fenced through the modernising hearing aid services programme.
In 2005-06, funding for digital hearing aids was given to individual primary care trusts that had the authority to make decisions about the allocation of resources for audiology services according to the needs of the populations they serve.
In 2006-07, the Department allocated NHS central revenue budgets on
A partnership between the Department of Health, The Royal National Institute for the Deaf and the audiology professional bodies has developed a new four-year BSc (Hons) in audiology. This will help to address the national shortage of audiologists; currently there are 348 audiology students on eight BSc audiology courses.
The public-private partnership (PPP) is proving to be very successful and has recently been extended to March 2007. The latest data for October 2006 shows that about 50,000 patients have completed pathways through PPP. NHS trusts benefit from the increased capacity, competitive pricing and quality of service provision available through the PPP.
In order to provide digital hearing aids at an affordable cost to the NHS, contracts have been negotiated by the NHS Procurement and Supply Agency with certain manufacturers. NHS audiologists can choose from a range of aids on contract for different types and levels of hearing loss. This enables the NHS to treat more patients from the funds available.