HL Deb 18 July 1951 vol 172 cc987-8

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government what is the average waiting time before applicants receive hearing aids under the National Health scheme.]


My Lords, average figures of this kind are not available, but the waiting time varies from a few days to a longer period, according to local circumstances and the degree of priority given to individual patients. It may interest your Lordships to know that, of about 250,000 applicants for hearing aids under the National Health Service, as many as 140,000 have been provided with these instruments in the past three years. Further applications are still being made, though at a reduced rate, but it is hoped to maintain the supply of aids at the high level now obtaining. Supplies in hand have recently been reallocated between the forty-seven distribution centres in England and Wales, with a view to helping those centres where the difficulties have been greatest.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for his reply, may I bring a particular point to his notice? A friend of mine went to Exeter on June 26, and after being kept waiting for three hours he was told that he would not get a hearing aid for three or four years. I may add that his deafness is due to his having been wounded in the First World War. I should like to know whether the noble Lord can give this matter his attention.


My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, may I also give a personal example? My son was informed that it would be eighteen months before he could get one of these aids free; but if he paid the full sum he could get it at once.


My Lords, in reply to the noble Earl, Lord Fortescue, may I say that if he will furnish me with particulars of the case, I will undertake to see that every attention is given to it. What I have said applies also to the noble Viscount. If he cares to give me details, I shall be very pleased to receive them.