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February 6, 2003

£8m to aid 'neglected' services for the deaf

From: The Glasgow Herald, UK - 06 Feb 2003


URGENT action is needed to correct years of neglect of services for the deaf and hard of hearing, according to a report published yesterday.

Only a third of the 533,000 people who might benefit from NHS audiology services actually use them, said the report by the Public Health Institute of Scotland.

Mary Mulligan, deputy health minister, responded with an announcement of an extra £8m over the next four years for improvements to services, in addition to £2.25m invested in audiology services over the past year.

However, the authors estimate that to bring the service up to the English level, or the higher levels recommended by the British Association of Audiological Physicians, would cost an extra £5.6m-£9.6m a year. Stuart Gatehouse, chairman of the review team, said the executive funding fell short of the sum needed to implement all the recommendations.

He said: "It goes some way to alleviate the situation. We estimate that something between £30m and £50m over a five-year period would be required to implement the sorts of recommendations that were made. But clearly £8m is a substantial sum of money."

The report showed that only 73% of adult audiology services in Scotland complied with good practice guidelines, and said there was a "historic under-investment in facilities, equipment, staff, and the development of skills in existing staff".

The Needs Assessment Report on NHS Audiology Services was commissioned because "currently the public perception is that audiology services in Scotland are failing."

© 2003 The Glasgow Herald