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Health: Audiology

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the statement by Lord Warner on 25 July (HL Deb, col 1642) regarding procurement of an additional 300,000 audiology service pathways from the independent sector, whether this initiative will result in additional capacity; and whether service commissioners could opt to use this scheme to transfer existing resources from the National Health Service to the independent sector. [HL123]

The audiology procurement is designed to complement National Health Service capacity to tackle long waits for audiology services. It represents additional capacity as part of the Government’s commitment to tackle audiology waits. We expect to publish an action plan, of which this procurement will be a key part, early next year.

Locally, it is for PCTs to decide how much audiology capacity to commission from providers of NHS services, consistent with overall local development plans.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consultations they held with professional bodies and representatives of patient groups before setting up the independent sector programme for audiology services.[HL473]

The procurement of extra audiology capacity by the National Health Service will be a key part of the action plan to deal with unacceptably long waits for adult hearing services in the context of the 18-week target. This follows concerns expressed over many months by representatives of patient groups and professional bodies about shortages in NHS-commissioned capacity.

The action plan will be informed by the views of a broad range of stakeholders including professional bodies and representatives of patient groups, and will I hope command broad support. A working group has been established to develop proposals, although for reasons of size has not been designed to be representative of the various groups. A forum will be held before publication to ensure that stakeholder groups and others have an opportunity to consider possible proposals and contribute their views. In the mean time, we have already had submissions from a number of professional organisations, and others are welcome to write with theirs. Whether or not there is formal consultation on the action plan or elements of it will depend on the nature of the measures.