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Kiwis waiting longer for cochlear implants

Kiwis waiting longer for cochlear implants

Waiting lists for cochlear implants have jumped by six months, says health funding coalition YesWeCare.nz

Information uncovered in parliamentary questions by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers shows the average waiting time for the operations above Taupo have increased by six months and below Taupo by three months.

The national average wait time is 20 months.

Last year the waiting list was 14 months for the Northern Cochlear Implant Trust and 17 months for the Southern Cochlear Implant Trust (SCIT).

YesWeCare.nz campaign coordinator Simon Oosterman says the situation is much worse as many have been kicked off a waiting list or can't get on one.

“The Government is abandoning Kiwis to fork out $45,000 - $50,000 for the fundamental right to hear, any many simply can’t afford it,” he says. “This is a direct result of more than $2.3b in Government health underfunding since 2010.”
Funding hasn’t kept up with New Zealand's ageing and growing population, Oosterman says.

Levin Volunteer surf lifesaver Danielle Mackay, 22, says she was kicked off the southern waiting list in June.

“If I don’t get an urgent ear operation in the next two and a half months it’s likely I will be deaf,” she says. ““I’m heartbroken and terrified for my future.”

SCIT told MacKay she couldn’t get back on the list unless the government increased funding.

In response, MacKay launched a petition to Prime Minister Bill English last week asking for funding.

The petition has 25,000 signatures so far.

In the 20 months since SCIT originally accepted MacKay on the list, she has become deaf in her right ear.

In the last few weeks she hasn’t been able to hear her family or boyfriend, she says.

“I want to be able to continue saving lives as a volunteer life-saver,” she says. “I want to listen to all the little things, my family talking, the Tui’s, the sound of the waves.”

MacKay says she doesn’t want to jump the list but wants the Government to fund cochlear implant for any Kiwi who would benefit from one and wants it.
YesWeCare.nz is a coalition of community groups, health service users and people working in health.

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