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NHS staffing crisis puts deaf children at risk

Published Date: 28 Feb 2017

Deaf children’s futures are being jeopardised by understaffed audiology services in NHS England, new research suggests.

A National Deaf Children's Society survey of children’s audiology services in England found that 30% had seen recent staffing reductions and 60% of services expected reductions soon.

We also discovered recruitment difficulties, with 21% of services struggling to fill vacancies - a huge leap since we last surveyed them in 2012, when only 1% said this was a problem.

At the time of our last survey, a third of services were failing to meet basic government standards. The government has since replaced its mandatory inspections with a voluntary scheme called IQIPS.

Currently, 85% of services have not completed the IQIPS scheme and 37% have not even begun, so it is impossible for us to tell if the situation has improved - but given these survey findings, we're concerned that it's getting worse.

Jessica Reeves, our Campaigns Manager, said: “There are 40,000 deaf children in England and a good audiology service is a vital lifeline for them, but without mandatory inspections this can't be guaranteed.

“Currently, thousands of families are relying on children’s audiology services with no way of judging their quality, and they have a right to know. 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.”

We've also produced a map so, for the first time, you can check the status of your local audiology service. To find out more, go to ndcs.org.uk/listenup.