§ Sir John Farr
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will make the device known as a tinnitus masker generally available on the National Health Service;
(2) in which parts of the United Kingdom a tinnitus masker is available on the National Health Service; and why it is not available nationally.
§ Mr. John Patten
The decision on what treatment is appropriate for a particular patient is a matter for the consultant responsible for his care. Any hospital consultant could prescribe a tinnitus masker if he considered it to be clinically necessary for his patient, 577W subject only to resources being available within the health authority. Alternatively, he could consider referring the patient to a specialist tinnitus clinic, where appropriate treatment would be provided. However I understand that on the available evidence maskers are not regarded as an efficacious form of treatment for many tinnitus sufferers. Consultants are therefore likely to prescribe other forms of treatment more appropriate for particular cases. The Department has funded a multi-centre field trial of maskers, the results of which are now being evaluated. No doubt consultants will wish to take account of this study, and the profession's view of it, in reaching decisions on particular cases.