Waiting For Direct Referrals To Audiology Treatment

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New data to show waiting times from referral to treatment for patients who are referred directly to audiology services is published for the first time today by the Department of Health.

The publication of these statistics marks a key stage in reducing long waits for treatment for all people with hearing related problems. In 2007, the Department of Health committed to tackling waiting times for patients referred directly to audiology services without needing a medical consultation including for example, those patients who need a hearing aid.

Previously, all data published up until this point has shown waits for audiology diagnostic assessments rather than treatment.

Significant progress has already been made to reduce audiology diagnostic assessment waiting times - where previously over 130,000 patients were waiting longer than six weeks. The average wait for audiology assessments has reduced to 2.2 weeks from 25.6 weeks in October 2006 when data was first collected.

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Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw said: "The NHS treats over 400,000 patients referred directly to audiology services every year and it is important people across the country are able to access services in a timely manner.

"Nationally, the NHS has made great progress in dramatically reducing waiting times for audiology diagnostic assessments, to an average of 2.2 weeks. This new data collection will help the NHS achieve lower waits for people accessing audiology services directly and the challenge now is for the NHS to bring them into line with the operational standard for 18 weeks."

Care Services Minister, Phil Hope said: "Hardness of hearing and deafness affect the lives of large numbers of people, and can limit active participation in family life and society if not assessed and treated appropriately.

"We take providing care for people with progressive hearing loss very seriously. I am pleased to see improved services are being delivered and that we now have information about people who access audiology services without first seeking a medical consultation and that we can monitor progress."

Chief Executive Officer of Royal National Institute for Deaf People, Jackie Ballard said: "We welcome the first ever publication of direct access referral-to-treatment data. It is vital that deaf and hard of hearing people can access accurate and timely information about how long they will wait for a life-changing treatment, or specifically a hearing aid. This new information will also help people engage in constructive dialogue with their local Trusts to ensure local timely provision."

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