Huge waiting lists for hearing aids

PEOPLE needing hearing aids from Ipswich hospital are having to wait for nearly a year, it emerged today.But despite the long waits, hospital bosses insist they are doing better than others in the country.

PEOPLE needing hearing aids from Ipswich hospital are having to wait for nearly a year, it emerged today.

But despite the long waits, hospital bosses insist they are doing better than others in the country.

A survey published by the British Society of Hearing Aid Association this week claimed that patients at Ipswich had to wait 53 weeks to have a hearing aid fitted.

But hospital officials claim the actual figure is 42 weeks.

Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said: "Because we have a growing number of people who need treatment from our audiology department it sometimes means people do have to wait.

"We did have problems with the budget last year but it was a learning curve for us and we've got a whole lot better as the year has gone on.

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"In the last year waiting times have come down considerably.

"We are very proud of our ear, nose and throat services. We have a gold standard service with fantastic clinicians and staff."

She added that the hospital is doing everything they can to address the problem.

She said: "There is a rising elderly population and a growing population generally which means there are increasing demands on our waiting lists.

"The hospital is working in partnership with the PCT to look at how we can best develop our service to deal with these demands in the future."

The BSHAA survey found that the average waiting time nationally was 47 weeks.

In other hospitals across the country patients were waiting more than two years for hearing aids and, in some cases, dying before they received them.

The Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend, Wales and the Mid Ulster hospital, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, both said it could take four years for patients to be seen.

Kent and Sussex hospital, in Tunbridge Wells, and Chase Farm hospital in north London, were next with a wait of 130 weeks.

A spokesman for the BSHAA, the largest professional association for registered hearing aid dispensers, said: "At present two national companies are in partnership with the NHS helping them tackle the current crisis.

"We believe this partnership should be extended to include all BSHAA high street members."

Waiting lists have increased steadily since the introduction of digital hearing aids. This has put pressure on the NHS as clients return for upgrades to their outdated analogue hearing aids and new clients continue to flood in.

Have you had a long wait for a hearing aid? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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