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Audiology Services

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it her policy to review the decision to exclude audiology from the 18-week waiting time target for treatment. (81155)

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. However, hearing and balance conditions that do need to be referred to a medical consultant will be subject to 18 weeks.

There is no intention to reconsider or review 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting times are from GP referral to final fitting of digital hearing aids for (a) new patients and (b) existing patients with an analogue hearing aid in the Solihull Primary Care Trust area. (80853)

The Department does not collect waiting time data for hearing aid/audiology services. However, since January 2006 we have been collecting waiting time and activity data for 15 diagnostic tests/procedures, including pure tone audiometry. These data have been shared with the national health service, for performance management purposes since 2 June 2006. These data will be routinely published from July 2006.