(2) what recent assessment she has made of the waiting times for patients to receive new digital hearing aids from the NHS.
The Department does not collect information centrally on the fitting of digital hearing aids. However, we recognise that waits for audiology services in some parts of the country are unacceptable.
In order to improve access and reduce waiting times for audiology services, a national action plan is being developed for publication in early 2007.
In addition to the development of the action plan, the Department has also announced the procurement of up to 300,000 audiology pathways to provide assessment, fitting and follow up.
Both of these measures will assist in significantly reducing waiting times and will greatly benefit those who receive hearing aids.