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Audiology Services

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what targets are in place for the provision of audiology services; what assessment she has made of whether the NHS will meet its targets in this area in 2006-07; and if she will make a statement. (92901)

Audiology services are covered by the current operational waiting time standards of 13 weeks for first out-patients and six months for in-patients. Waits for audiological diagnostics are covered by the 13-week stage of treatment diagnostic milestone to be reached by March 2007 as part of the drive to reduce waits towards the December 2008 referral to treatment waiting time target of 18 weeks, the milestone is not itself a target. Audiology services are in the scope of 18 weeks if referral to a hospital consultant is involved but not if referral is direct to the audiology service. In practice, this means that complex cases are in scope but not the majority of simple cases.

Ministers are aware of long waits for audiology services. An action plan is being developed to improve access to all audiology services including those outside 18 weeks.