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Volume 401: debated on Friday 14 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent to date on audiology modernisation (a) in phase I and (b) in phase II; how much is allocated for completion of the national programme; and how much of the total will (i) be offset by PCT expenditure and (ii) be raised by public/private partnership arrangements. [98675]

The Government invested £10.75 million on the first wave of the modernising hearing aid services project and a further £20 million on the second wave. A further £94 million has been allocated to ensure that a modernised service is rolled out to all national health service hearing aid services in England by April 2005. Primary care trusts are expected to contribute 25 per cent. of any additional revenue costs that are incurred through modernisation.Involving private hearing aid dispensers in providing NHS digital hearing aids has been tested out in two areas of the country. The trial has been very successful. On this basis, the plans for national roll-out of digital hearing aids will include developing public/private partnerships to boost NHS capacity, and to improve access for patients by providing a service "on the High Street" rather than in the hospital.