Deaf News: Shocking 73-week wait for hearing aid reassessment in Wales is revealed

Posted on June 26, 2014

Patients with hearing loss in one area of Wales are being forced to wait up to 73 weeks, or 17 months, to get reassessed for hearing aids, Wales Online reports.

Figures obtained from Cym Taf Health Board by the local Liberal Democrat Group show the shocking delay patients face to obtain hearing aids if they are recommended for reassessment following an initial appointment. A patient that needs reassessment today may have to wait until November 2015 to get another appointment but the target is just 14 weeks.

Speaking to Wales Online, Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts said the waiting times are “unacceptable”.

She said: “The request was submitted following feedback from a number of residents who had attended the local audiology clinic and been told they needed a hearing test but that the wait was more than 70 weeks.”

A spokesman for the Cym Taf University Health Board apologised for the delay and said the waiting time was being worked on.

“The audiology department has been working tirelessly to reduce waits, whilst also prioritising those in greatest need.” he said.

“As a result, the follow-up waiting list has been significantly reduced to 12 weeks in most cases, and the reassessment waiting list will be targeted as soon as possible.”

Richard Williams, Cymru Director for charity Action on Hearing Loss said he felt disappointed.

“We are disappointed to see patients with hearing loss waiting for more than a year in some cases to have their hearing reassessed.” He said.

“Yet, patients in Wales tell us that this length of waiting time is not unique to Cwm Taf University Health Board.

“Without treatment, worsening hearing loss can lead to isolation from friends and family. Studies have shown that older people with hearing loss are more than twice as likely to develop depression as those without.

“Thanks to our lobbying, the Government introduced reporting on audiology waiting times. Patients should not have to wait more than 14 weeks to be reassessed and we are disappointed that this has not led to improvements.”

News of the long waiting list in Wales follows moves in NHS North Staffordshire to stop providing hearing aids altogether to people with age-related hearing loss in the mild or moderate category. The first of two public meetings was held today as campaigners fight the proposed changes which could lead to elderly people pleading to a local panel to get hearing aids or the service being scrapped altogether.

By Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor. 

Andy is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teaches sign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

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