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Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many digital hearing aids have been issued on the NHS since they became available. [117853]

A total of 83,397 digital hearing aids were fitted as part of the modernising hearing aid services (MHAS) project by the end of April 2003. We do not know the number of digital hearing aids fitted by those sites that have access to the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency contract for digital hearing aids but are not part of the MHAS project, nor would we know of any digital hearing aids bought outside of the contract, as neither of these figures is collected centrally. Any site with the necessary training and equipment in place may apply for access to the procurement contract so that they can provide digital hearing aids on the national health service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on hearing loss in England. [117854]

The Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research estimates that there are now approximately 7.5 million people in England who are deaf or hearing impaired. Most of these people acquire their hearing impairment. It is estimated that 55.1 per cent. of people aged over 60 are deaf or hearing impaired compared, to 6.7 per cent. of the under 60s. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People estimates that 1.8 per cent. of young adults under 30 have a hearing impairment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf; and if he will make a statement. [117855]

Officials of the Department of Health are working very closely with the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, who are project managing the modernisation of the hearing aid services programme.