The British Academy of Audiology (BAA) is reporting that a determined effort by audiology teams across the United Kingdom has led to 99% of people receiving hearing aids or other appropriate treatment within the government’s 18-week target.
Figures for February 2009, just released by the UK National Health Service (NHS), show that the situation has been improving every month since April 2008, according to the BAA. The improvements have reportedly come about as a result of reinstating frozen posts combined with a determined effort by audiology teams to work in more flexible and creative ways.
The BAA calls it "particularly significant" that the reduction in waiting times has been achieved without needing high levels of extra help from the private sector, contrary to government expectations, also citing that the improvement has been done without compromising quality of patient care or making appointments shorter.
"NHS audiology services have for a long time been seen as a poor relation, with many people feeling that a private hearing aid was their only option," says Huw Cooper, BAA president. "We advised the Health Select Committee back in 2007 that we believed the NHS could make the changes needed without spending money on external organizations. We’re extremely pleased that this has proved to be the case."
Some nine million adults in the UK have some degree of hearing loss, says the BAA, and the number is expected to grow as the population ages.