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Growing adult cochlear waiting list needs action

Dr Jackie Blue
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

21 November 2006

Growing adult cochlear waiting list needs planned action, not reaction

"The Government's announcement that it will fund 20 adult cochlear implants a year does not go far enough, says National's Associate Health spokeswoman, Dr Jackie Blue.

“This is a knee-jerk reaction to the growing number of adults who are waiting for a cochlear implant,” says Dr Jackie Blue.

“Adult cochlear operations have virtually come to a standstill and the 20 operations will make only a small dent in the list of 100 or so adults currently waiting.

“With 30 more adults needing cochlear operations each year, the waiting list will continue to grow unless there is more certainty around funding.

“This ‘do nothing then throw some money at the problem’ Government response puts real pressure on the workforce and resources.

“Realistic and regular funding will give those on the waiting list certainty of treatment and will allow treatment providers to plan ahead.

“Currently, only 30 cochlear implant operations are funded each year, with the majority performed on children.

“It is high time the Government honoured its own 2003 report into cochlear services, which recommended funding for 50 cochlear implant operations each year.

“The adults waiting for cochlear implants are people who were born hearing but have become deaf during their lifetime – usually as a result of inner-ear disorders.

“Becoming deaf has a huge impact on their lives. They can become socially isolated and depressed, with many working-age patients reducing or stopping work completely. A cochlear implant for these people would mean they are able to live a near-normal life,”says Dr Blue.


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