The 18 week ‘referral to treatment’ target covers hospital pathways.
As a result of innovation, the majority of audiology and adult hearing services are accessed directly from primary care and are outside the scope of the 18 week pathway. Hearing and balance conditions that need to be referred to a medical consultant however will be subject to 18 weeks.
There is no intention to reconsider this principle. However, reducing the time that patients wait for directly accessed services is important and an action plan is being developed to improve access to audiology services outside the 18 week pathway.
The Department’ policy on hearing aid services has focused on ensuring that the national health service provides modern digital hearing aids. Digital hearing aids have been available at Chorley Hospital since March 2004, with the majority of new patients being fitted within 13 weeks of referral to the audiology service.