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If, on clinical assessment by the cochlear implant specialist team at Crosshouse hospital, it is considered that a cochlear implant processor needs upgrading, and there is a suitable processor in stock, there is no waiting time and it will be provided to the patient at the time of assessment. If a processor has to be ordered, it will normally take two to three weeks to be delivered. If, on clinical assessment, a patient is found to have a processor that is faulty but can be repaired, the patient will be provided with a like-for-like processor from stock while their processor is sent for repair. There is no waiting time for that process.
The minister will be aware that young people who have profound hearing difficulties and use cochlear implants face a very challenging environment—not least in the classroom, which can affect their ability to learn. As new technology becomes available, their parents are obviously anxious to secure the best possible opportunity for them.
Does the minister sympathise with the parents of one of my constituents who has been told that there are some 200 young children in the queue ahead of her before she is likely to have an upgraded cochlear implant processor? Does he believe that, in line with the rest of the country, processors should automatically be replaced after an interval of five years?
On Patricia Ferguson’s final point about changing the cochlear implant processor every five years, NHS Scotland is in the process of implementing that policy. She will be aware that the national cochlear implant service that is provided at Crosshouse hospital in Kilmarnock is delivered nationally. As I have outlined, if a processor needs to be changed or repaired there is a process in place to enable that to happen within the specified waiting time if the processor is in stock.
If Patricia Ferguson wants to write to me with specific details on a particular type of cochlear implant that is not currently available through our national service, I will be happy to get the clinicians who are responsible for deciding on the approach in Scotland to respond to the specific issues affecting her constituent.