asked the Minister of Health if he is satisfied that general practitioners possess the necessary experience to detect efficiently deafness among children; and what action he is taking to ensure that all children who suffer in this way are identified as early as possible.
A general practitioner suspecting deafness would normally refer the child to an audiology clinic for full investigation. The importance of early detection and diagnosis of deafness in young children was emphasised in circulars sent to all local health and education authorities in 1961 and in March this year.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the period of training of specialised teachers of deaf children is much longer than that received by general practitioners? Is he aware that experience in the King's Lynn area shows that the incidence of deafness may be far greater than suspected, and will he consult his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science on setting up a proper sample survey throughout the country to assess the need?
I will consider anything that my hon. Friend suggests. I agree that most general practitioners probably do not feel that they have had enough experience themselves in this field to make the final diagnosis, and that treatment, including the provision of any necessary hearing aid, is a matter for the specialist in otology.