Skip to main content

Hearing Aids

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress made in the training of staff to fit digital hearing aids in the second wave of hospital trusts to receive funding for the purpose. [99405]

The training of staff is progressing satisfactorily and is on schedule to enable all second-wave sites to begin fitting digital hearing aids by the end of March.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many of the second wave of hospital trusts to receive funding for the roll-out of digital hearing aids (a) are fitting the new devices and (b) will have begun to fit the new devices by the end of March. [99406]

Seventeen of the 30 second-wave sites are already fitting digital hearing aids as part of a modernised service. The remaining 13 will have begun to fit them by the end of March.The Government are investing £94 million over the next two years to spread the benefits of digital hearing aids across the whole of England by April 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the savings to be had by patients requiring digital hearing aids if registered hearing aid dispensers were enabled to access the NHS hearing aid contract; and if he will make a statement; [99660](2) when the evaluation of pilot projects in Shrewsbury and Leeds to examine the role that the private sector may play in supporting the modernisation of NHS hearing aid service will be completed; and if he will make a statement; [99661]

(3) what plans there are to train registered hearing aid dispensers to NHS standards so that they can access the NHS hearing aid contract; and if he will make a statement. [99662]

On 7 February 2003, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health announced a £94 million investment to support the modernisation of hearing aid services, including the provision of digital hearing aids throughout England, by April 2005. Rollout plans include boosting national health service capacity and improving access for patients by extending public/private partnerships.The pilot private sector projects in Shrewsbury and Leeds have now been evaluated. The results of the pilot show that private sector hearing aid dispensers can be contracted to fit, assess and follow-up NHS patients with no detriment to the outcome for these patients.Private sector partners in Shrewsbury and Leeds provided hearing aids obtained via the NHS hearing aid contract for the NHS patients treated as part of the pilot. NHS patients were not charged for their treatment or for the hearing aids. We intend that these arrangements will apply to extended private sector partnership arrangements. There are no plans to give hearing aid dispensers access to the NHS hearing aid contract for their private patients. Hearing aid dispensers in Leeds and Shrewsbury received training to enable them to provide a modernised service to NHS patients, including fitting digital hearing aids. Dispensers involved in extended private partnerships arrangements will be required to meet similar standards of competence and experience.