HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc562-5
32. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Minister of Health how many National Health hearing aids have been returned by their recipients as unsuitable.

Mr. Marquand

Precise figures are not available but the number is estimated at 2,000.

Sir T. Moore

As the Ministry's instruments are unsuitable to many and cumbersome to the majority to wear, would the right hon. Gentleman consider scrapping the National Health issue and, say, making a grant to the private manufacturers, who have a wide range of deaf aids which suit many types of deafness?

Mr. Marquand

No, Sir, I have no intention of changing well-established policy in this matter.

Sir T. Moore

Would the Minister answer the first part of my supplementary question?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Would the Minister tell us the percentage of deaf aids returned?

Mr. Marquand

The percentage returned as unsuitable is something just over 1 per cent.

Mr. Hastings

Is it not a fact that the Medresco hearing aid is considered to be the very best by all those competent to judge?

Mr. Profumo

Can the Minister say in how many of these cases the return was due to the fact that in the first place bone conduction hearing aids should have been issued to the patients; and can he say anything about the progressive development of this sort of hearing aid for the whole scheme?

Mr. Marquand

That is another question.

37. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Minister of Health why he has instructed the United Cardiff Hospitals Committee that the supply of hearing aids must be limited to 120 a month in view of the long waiting list of people urgently requiring the use of these aids.

Mr. Marquand

I have recently reviewed the allocation of aids to distribution centres, taking into account the waiting lists and other factors. Each will in future receive a fair share of the aids available for distribution.

Mr. Thomas

Am I to assume from my right hon. Friend's reply that the figure of 124 is unchanged, because, if so, that will mean a wait of over four years for people to get their hearing aids, which are not a luxury but a necessity?

Mr. Marquand

My information is that Cardiff should get at least 124 every four weeks and, if the situation improves, may get as many as 148 every four weeks. I do not need to remind my hon. Friend that I would do nothing unfair to Cardiff.

38 and 39. Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether his attention has been called to the case of Mr. T. J. Cock, St. Austell, who was recommended for a hearing aid after medical examination on the 1st January, 1949, and is still awaiting delivery of the instrument; and what explanation he can give for this delay;

(2) whether his attention has been called to the case of Mrs. F. J. Rowe. Truro, who was recommended for a hearing aid on 15th December, 1948, was not interviewed and tested until 22nd May, 1950, and is still awaiting delivery of the instrument; and what is the explanation of this delay.

Mr. Marquand

Yes, Sir. The delay in both instances is due to the large accumulated demand and neither patient appears to have any special claim to priority.

Mr. Wilson

Does the Minister think that a delay of 27 or 28 months is reasonable, and could not something be done to expedite the matter?

Mr. Marquand

It was precisely because I thought that the waiting lists in the West of England were unduly long that I revised the allocation, and, in consequence, did something slightly to the detriment of Cardiff.

41. Mr. G. P. Stevens

asked the Minister of Health what steps he has recently taken to speed up the production and delivery of hearing aids.

Mr. Marquand

I am glad to say that production and delivery of new aids are increasing year by year in spite of material shortages and other difficulties.

Mr. Stevens

As these very lengthy waiting lists are not confined to Cardiff and Truro, but generally throughout the country, cannot the Minister do something to speed up production still further?

Mr. Marquand

My right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General and his Department are doing what they can in this matter. The monthly rate of production in 1949–50 was 6,400; in 1950–51, 7,750 and this year, to date, 8,750.

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