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Hearing Impaired: Health Services

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the Government’s policy is on the referral by general practitioners of audiology patients directly to ear, nose and throat consultants; what the difference in cost is per patient to the NHS of such referrals; and if she will make a statement; (137199)

(2) whether audiogram tests conducted by registered hearing aid dispensers are acceptable diagnostic results for NHS treatment, including the fitting of hearing aids; and if she will make a statement.

Patients seen by the general practitioner (GP) are referred directly to ear, nose and throat consultants if they are a more complicated case. Otherwise, a GP would normally refer an audiology patient to the adult hearing services within an audiology department for routine hearing loss. It is the responsibility of individual practitioners to make the most appropriate referral based on their clinical judgment.

We do not hold information about the difference in cost per patient to the national health service of such referrals.

Decisions about audiogram tests are a local matter which will be agreed between the hearing aid dispenser and the audiology service that receives patients who have been tested by the dispenser.