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Report paints deeply concerning picture of the state of audiology in Scotland

Published Date: 25 Aug 2023

Following the publication of the final report and recommendations of the Independent Review of Audiology Services in Scotland, Mark Ballard, Head of Policy and Influencing for Scotland at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:  

“This report paints a deeply concerning picture of the state of audiology in Scotland. Parents who rely on audiology services for their children will be shocked to learn there has been an absence of national leadership, strategic planning and workforce planning at audiology departments across Scotland and that there has been no quality assurance of services in recent years.”

The most urgent recommendations in the review are around the quality of auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing, which is carried out to identify deafness in very young children.

Mr Ballard said: “It is alarming that issues were identified in the quality of ABR testing at every single health board across Scotland.

“We know deaf children can achieve anything that hearing children can when they get the right support, but for this to happen their deafness must be identified at the earliest opportunity. This is why it is vitally important that children always receive high quality and effective testing and long-term support.

“Parents need reassurance that issues with the quality of services will be swiftly addressed. This report was commissioned after significant failures were uncovered at NHS Lothian involving more than 150 children over nine years. Some of those children experienced life-changing consequences, because their deafness was identified too late for them to get the surgery or communication support they needed. There must be no more similar failures.”

The report also found there is a lack of consistent data collection, meaning it is difficult to monitor quality and compare how health boards in Scotland are performing. This makes it impossible to know if other deaf children are being failed in the same way as those in Lothian. 

Mr Ballard continued: “Parents told the review about the difference a good audiologist can make and it is clear from this report we need to make sure they always have the resources, training and leadership required to deliver effective support.

“It is now crystal clear to the Scottish Government and NHS health boards what they must do to make sure every child gets the testing and support they need,” Mr Ballard added.

Click here for NHS Scotland's media release, containing a link to the full report.