HC Deb 30 July 1953 vol 518 cc1513-4
11. Mr. Edward Evans

asked the Minister of Health if he will consult the Minister of Education with the object of providing young deaf children with residual hearing, and hard of hearing children, with a light weight monopack hearing aid under the provisions of the National Health Service Act.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I have already decided, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education to provide children who can benefit from it with a Medresco aid in monopack form. It will inevitably, however, be some considerable time before these can be made available through the National Health Service.

Mr. Evans

Whilst thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that statement, may I ask whether, before he develops this scheme too far, he will consult the parents and teachers of children who will have to use these aids, before going in for a general supply?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. The position at the moment is that we are asking the Post Office, who act as technicians in these matters, to carry out the necessary field trials. I will give an undertaking that I shall consult with the persons concerned.

13. Mr. D. Brook

asked the Minister of Health the reason for the long delay in the supply of hearing aids in Halifax, as compared with some other parts of the country.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The pressure on the Bradford distribution centre, which serves Halifax, is very heavy and it has not so far been possible, as elsewhere, to open an additional centre in this part of the country. I hope, however, that it may be possible to open a centre at Halifax itself before the end of the year.

Mr. Brook

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has been telling me that story for nearly two years and that while the waiting period in other parts of the country is three months, in Halifax it is nearly three years? Will the right hon. Gentleman keep the promise he has just made to open the centre at the end of the year?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot have been giving the same answer for nearly two years as I have only been one year in office as Minister of Health. It is true that to some extent this area is lagging behind. The reason is that the regional hospital board have not found it possible to fit it into this extra programme. But I think that we can reasonably hope that it will be operating at the end of the year.

Mr. Edward Evans

Is the delay due to the fact that personnel are not available for the work? When the right hon. Gentleman opens the centre will he make sure that he provides not only the appliances but the personnel to see that the aids are adequately applied and that the people concerned are taught how to use them?

Mr. Macleod

I will certainly look at that, but the difficulty in Halifax, I think, has been financial and not one of personnel.

Mr. McLeavy

Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware of the difficulty in the City of Bradford? Can he assure the House that he will give constant attention to the complaints which I have sent to him on numerous occasions?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, certainly. It follows that the opening of a sub-centre will take a great deal of the weight off Bradford, but with the position as it is we have reduced the waiting list in Bradford from 4,800 in February, 1952, to about 3,700 now.