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Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to reduce the waiting times for NHS hearing aid patients. (81154)

A national action plan is being developed to improve adult hearing services. The intention is to develop the way forward in partnership with stakeholders.

In addition, several initiatives have been introduced through the modernising hearing aid services programme to increase capacity to deliver audiology services in England. These are the national framework contract (public-private partnership) to bring in additional independent sector capacity, the development of a new degree to help to address the shortage of audiologists and the introduction of Hearing Direct which provides follow-up care and advice for some hearing aid users.

From April 2005, the 164 national health service audiology departments have been able to routinely assess for and fit digital hearing aids. It is for primary care trusts to ensure their local population benefits from the modernised services.