Deaf News: NDCS says audiology services are failing deaf children in England

Posted on September 29, 2014

The shocking state of England’s children’s audiology services is revealed in a report published today.

1000 parents were consulted for Listen Up!, a report by the National Deaf Children’s Society, that highlights a number of failings, ranging from children being fitted with hearing aids that do not work, to audiologists misdiagnosing deaf children.

79% of parents reported waiting more than the Government’s recommended waiting time for appointments for replacement earmoulds – a vital part of the hearing aid which fits tightly into the ear and needs replacing frequently as a child’s ears grow. Almost all (96%) of parents reported waiting too long for the earmoulds to be ready.

In addition, parents reported waiting more than the recommend time5 for their child’s first audiology appointment with almost half (44%) reporting they waited five weeks or longer. A further 20% waited over eight weeks.

The report coincides with the Party Conferences to target MPs, as the Government has recently stopped assessing the quality of children’s audiology services.

Jo Campion, Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“The state of children’s audiology services in England is extremely concerning. Evidence clearly shows these vital services are not up to standard, yet the Government has recently stopped assessing services against quality standards, leaving little incentive or support for services to improve. This can only make matters worse for the 35,000 deaf children in England. We’re calling on the Government to ensure quality standards continue to be assessed.”

The National Deaf Children’s Society’s research was prompted by an earlier report by the NHS7 that revealed one third of audiology services are failing to meet basic standards.

Jo Campion continued:

“Hearing is critical to a child’s development. As a deaf child grows they will need regular audiology appointments to ensure hearing aids fit well. Waiting a few days or weeks might not seem long, but if you add this up, a child misses out on a lot of crucial listening time in the vital early years. Every day a child is waiting is another day they lose out on hearing their parents, developing their language skills, learning from teachers, or joining in with conversations with friends. Currently thousands of deaf children are being put at a disadvantage by the very people who should be helping them.”

Sam Sykes is mother to 15 month old Tate who was diagnosed deaf when he was born. She said:

“At three months old Tate was fitted with hearing aids, but the frequency was set too low so they didn’t work. I knew something was wrong but it was four months before the audiologist saw Tate again. I felt helpless. This had a huge effect on Tate’s development. He didn’t make any real noise until he was eight months old or say his first word until ten months. He’ll never get those crucial months back. It’s so important that the Government listens and improves audiology services.”

Further serious problems reported in Listen Up!, include:

· Audiologists failing to use the most up to date tests and misdiagnosing deaf children – one parent reported it taking 12 months for their son to get a correct diagnosis, in this time his teachers thought he was misbehaving.

· Audiologists failing to ensure hearing aids are set-up correctly – one parent said their child’s hearing aids were set up wrong three times in a row.

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Posted in: deaf news