HC Deb 29 May 1952 vol 501 cc1651-3
43. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of Health when bone conduction attachments will be made for Medresco hearing aids.

29. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health what progress has been made with putting the bone-conduction hearing aid into mass production.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I cannot yet add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), on 15th May.

Mr. Hynd

Is the Minister aware that an apparatus very similar to the Medresco hearing aid is being manufactured now with an attachment which enables bone conduction to be effective, and is the Minister not aware that it would be very simple to make a similar attachment to the Medresco apparatus?

Mr. Macleod

I will look into that particular point, but the hon. Member will realise that these large-scale trials, under the auspices primarily of the Medical Research Council, have been going on for some time, and are within a matter of weeks of completion. It is expected that the results will be issued by the end of July and after that we will, I hope, be able to go ahead with the production of this aid.

Mr. Edward Evans

Is the Minister not aware that the delay in the provision of this aid is becoming nothing less than scandalous? This form of aid has been on the market for nearly two years, and a tremendous mass of knowledge as well as clinical experience from a very wide range has been acquired? Is it not time that these were available to the public?

Mr. Macleod

I have said that the Medical Research Council will be concluding their experiments by the end of July, and the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Edward Evans), who has very expert knowledge in this field, will know that when large-scale experimental trials of this nature are being carried out speed is not the only consideration. We must have complete thoroughness as well. This matter is in the hands of the most responsible people in this country, and I feel confident that they will give us the results as quickly as they can.

Mr. Hastings

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us an approximate estimate of the number of patients who are awaiting benefit from the bone conduction apparatus?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, almost exactly 4,000.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that field experiments in this matter were started as far back as 1950, and does it not seem that they are taking a long time to come to a conclusion about it?

Mr. Macleod

I have no personal knowledge of what the right hon. Gentleman calls field experiments, but I assume that the large-scale clinical tests now in progress would have followed on field trials. The clinical tests were started in October last and are to be finished towards the end of July.