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February 7, 2003

Digital deaf aids for 2m

From: Guardian, UK - 07 Feb 2003

John Carvel, social affairs editor
Friday February 7, 2003
The Guardian

Nearly two million people will be entitled to advanced digital hearing aids free on the NHS, under a partnership to be announced today by the government and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People.

Alan Milburn, the health secretary, said that he would provide £94m to modernise audiology services in England within two years; the Scottish executive made a similar announcement on Wednesday following initiatives in Wales and Northern Ireland. The RNID charity had been campaigning for digital aids on the grounds that they can give people who are deaf or hard of hearing a 40% improvement in hearing and quality of life.

It had cost users up to £2,000 to have digital aids fitted privately, but a bulk deal with their Danish maker will reduce the cost to the NHS to between £65 and £75, depending on the model.

They process sound in ways impossible with analogue aids that use 1970s technology - sound levels can be tailored to suit the individual and to suit a particular environment.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003