asked Her Majesty's Government:
What discussions have taken place between the Department of Health and the British Academy of Audiology regarding the exclusion of direct audiology referrals from the 18-week waiting times target set out in Tackling hospital waiting: the 18 week patient pathway.[HL6681]
The Department of Health conducted a six-week listening exercise in autumn 2005 on Commissioning an 18 week patient pathway: proposed principles and definitions—a discussion document. We sought comments from the National Health Service, patient groups and professional bodies on a wide range of issues including shorter waiting times for audiology services. A response was received from the British Academy of Audiology.
Tackling hospital waiting: the 18 week patient pathway—an implementation framework, published in May 2006, makes clear that the 18-week target will focus on hospital pathways. Conditions, including audiological ones, which require referral to a medical consultant will be covered but services accessed directly from primary care will not. The British Academy of Audiology wrote to express concern about directly accessed audiology services. The department has made clear that reducing waiting times for directly accessed audiology services is important and that an action plan is being developed to improve access.