asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that Scottish patients already possessing commercial aids to hearing are denied free batteries; and whether he will take steps to make them available.
I regret that the administrative difficulties involved in providing batteries for all the commercial types of hearing-aids would preclude their provision under the National Health Service.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some 10 per cent. of sufferers get no benefit from the Medresco artificial aids and that some of them provided their own commercial sets and used to get funds to help in the upkeep and provision of batteries? Would it not be more economical for the country to provide batteries for a set which gives satisfaction rather than force the sufferer to get a completely new set which does not give satisfaction and costs more?
There is no evidence that the Medresco set is unsatisfactory. As I have indicated, there would be considerable administrative difficulties in setting up machinery by which the hospitals were compelled to supply batteries.
Will my hon. Friend say what the administrative difficulties are? Does he realise that there is a great shortage of these batteries in the North-east of Scotland and will he see that this is rectified?
Would the hon. Gentleman like me to send him official statistical figures of those who have tried the Medresco set without benefit but who receive benefit from other sets?
We shall be glad to have evidence on which to base that assertion.