NHS staffing crisis puts deaf children at risk
28 February 2017
• Children’s audiology services report fewer staff and trouble recruiting
• 1 in 3 services were failing when inspection scheme was scrapped in 2012
• 85% of services have not completed the alternative voluntary scheme - meaning NHS, CCGs and patients have no idea of their quality
Deaf children’s futures are being jeopardised by understaffed audiology services, a report published today (28 February) by the National Deaf Children’s Society suggests.
The charity’s survey of children’s audiology services in England found that 30%  had seen recent staffing reductions and 60%  of services expected reductions soon.
It also highlighted recruitment difficulties, with 21%  of services struggling to fill vacancies. This is a huge leap since they were last surveyed in 2012, when only 1% said this was a problem.
At the time of the last survey, a third of services were failing to meet basic government standards. The government has since replaced its mandatory quality inspections with a voluntary scheme known as IQIPS.
Currently, 85%  of services have not completed the scheme and 37% have not even begun , making it impossible to know if the situation has improved – but given the survey findings, the report raises concerns that it is getting worse.
Jessica Reeves, Campaigns Manager at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “There are more than 35,000 deaf children in England, and a good audiology service is a vital lifeline for them – but without mandatory inspections, this cannot be guaranteed.
“Currently, thousands of families are relying on children’s audiology services with no way of judging their quality. They have a right to know if their service is fit for purpose.
“We’re calling on the Department of Health and NHS England to make IQIPS mandatory for all children’s audiology services, to ensure deaf children get the support they need.”
The charity has also produced a map, so that - for the first time - patients can check the status of their local audiology service. To find out more, visit ndcs.org.uk/listenup.