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Caithness News Bulletins October 2003

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£9 Million For Digital Hearing Aid Services 1 October 03

Patients are to benefit from advanced digital hearing aid technology through a new funding scheme.  The money will help ensure hearing services have the necessary equipment, staff and availability of digital hearing aids.

Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe said: “Anyone who needs a hearing aid should be provided with one that fully meets their clinical needs”   Hearing aid services, including the issuing of digital hearing aids, are to be improved through a funding scheme of £9 million over three years.

The funding reflects a commitment in the Partnership Agreement, A Partnership for a Better Scotland, to routinely issue digital hearing aids where these are the most clinically effective option.

Announcing the funding Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe said: "Hearing impairment is an issue which affects 15 per cent of the population and we must start making strides in alleviating the problems faced by people.

"That is why the Executive's goal is that anyone who needs a hearing aid should be provided with one that fully meets their clinical needs, have it properly fitted and receive comprehensive support to help them make best use of the aid.

"Taken together with funds already promised we are now investing nearly £20 million over five years. These funds will be used to ensure that audiology departments have the equipment, facilities and staff in place as well as providing the aids themselves.

"We recognise that NHS Boards have work to do to make sure that services are developed. That is why we have established a Modernisation Project Board and a multi-interest Advisory Group to monitor and support service development by NHS Boards. In addition we have recruited a very experienced Project Manager who will take up post at the end of this month."

Maggie Williams, Director of RNID Scotland, commented:
"The RNID has campaigned vigorously to ensure that people in Scotland have a world class service that routinely provides digital hearing aids. It is excellent news that the Scottish Executive are injecting this additional funding which will ensure patients benefit from advanced digital hearing aid technology provided by a modernised health service."

This latest injection of funds makes a total of £19.25 million pledged by the Executive over the period 2002-07. The £9 million announced today will be split as follows an additional £1 million for 2003-04 with a further £4 million in each of the following two years.

Angela Graham will take up post as Audiology Services Modernisation Project Manager on 27 October. She has had a varied career with Boots Health Services, most recently as Head of Boots Hearingcare. The Project Board will be under the Chairmanship of Professor Tony Wells, Chief Executive of Tayside NHS Board.

The financial commitments announced this year follows from a comprehensive needs assessment report commissioned by the Executive and undertaken by PHIS entitled, NHS Audiology Services in Scotland. The remit for the report was to assess the needs of patients for audiology services, establish current provision was adequate and consistent care across Scotland, and make recommendations on action that could be taken to address any inadequacies.

The commitment to this funding was announced by Finance Minister Andy Kerr in his Budget Statement on September 11 2003.