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Scottish review of audiology services welcomed

Published Date: 15 Dec 2023

National Deaf Children's Society welcomes Scottish Government's response to review of audiology

The Scottish Government has responded today (14 December 14) to the report and recommendations of the Independent Review of audiology in Scotland, established following the NHS Lothian audiology scandal.

In response to a parliamentary question from Evelyn Tweed, MSP, the Scottish Government has committed to accept all of the recommendations of the review in principle, and to now establish a National Implementation Group to examine how best to implement the recommendations. The Scottish Government response also stated that “this Implementation Group will be formed with partners from the third sector, as well as the health service, which will allow us to ensure the voices of those with lived experience are front and centre as changes are made.”

The National Deaf Children’s Society has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to accept all of the recommendations, and looks forward to working with Government to ensure the recommendations are swiftly and effectively delivered.

Mark Ballard, Head of Policy and Influencing for Scotland at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

 “Deaf children and their families will welcome the publication of the Scottish Government response to the Independent Review of Audiology. The review identified multiple, systemic problems within audiology services in NHS Scotland.

“We have called for the Scottish Government to grasp this opportunity for transformative change to make sure audiology is safe and fit for purpose. Parents will be relieved that the Scottish Government has committed to accept all of the review’s recommendations in principle - although we all recognise there is much work to be done to deliver on them.

“The independent review raised significant concerns about how well the results of the specialist tests carried out on children where hearing loss is suspected were being assessed. Issues with the assessment of the results of these tests, known as Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) tests, were identified in every Scottish health board area. So, we’re delighted the Scottish Government has committed to act on the various recommendations made in the review to improve ABR testing.

"However, these concerns were flagged to the Scottish government eight months ago, so it is absolutely vital that we act at pace to deliver these recommendations.

“One of the key findings in the report was that there has been a long term lack of investment and prioritisation of audiology services in Scotland. In order to achieve the shared ambition of making sure audiology services are safe and fit for purpose, appropriate funding will need to be found as part of implementation.

“It is therefore great that the Scottish Government has committed to ensuring that the voices of those with lived experience are front and centre of the new National Implementation Group.

“While we welcome this commitment to implement the recommendations of the review, the we look to the Scottish Government to provide more detail and expand on their current commitments, so that deaf children and their families can be sure that will be no repeat of the NHS Lothian scandal.

“We’ll continue to campaign tirelessly until we’re satisfied plans are in place to ensure hearing services across the country are fully staffed and operating at a consistent quality, with monitoring and data collection in place – all of which are crucial if we’re to fix a broken system.

“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.”