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Deaf patients abandoned on waiting lists

Deaf patients abandoned on waiting lists

National's Health spokesperson says the Government's dumping deaf New Zealanders on lengthy waiting lists, dashing their hopes of leading normal lives.

"Many deaf people are losing job opportunities and a chance at independence because they're being denied a cochlear implant - their only chance of improving their hearing," says Dr Lynda Scott.

"What's worse, if these people are over the age of 65, they're not even considered because the procedure's not available to them unless they pay privately.

"Some older New Zealanders are having to mortgage their homes to pay for this treatment which is blatant discrimination."

Dr Scott says the Cochlear Implant Programme is funded for only 24 procedures a year, with most going to children because they have a better chance at normal language if it's done before the age of two.

"But this is abandoning many deaf adults to waiting lists for two or three years - despite a rigorous medical approval programme. It's risking their job chances, their home life and their independence.

Dr Scott questions how this fits with the Government's promise to deliver services within six months of being approved for surgery?

"Especially when it's known cochlear implantation is the third most cost effective high-tech intervention in medicine in terms of quality of life.

"This programme and its research are lauded overseas, especially in Australia.

"But we're losing our place as the Health Minister pours millions of taxpayer dollars into all the wrong places and ignores programmes like this," says Dr Scott.

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