HL Deb 04 February 1999 vol 596 cc223-4WA
Lord Ashley of Stoke

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many hearing aids have been supplied by the NHS; and [HL800]

In what way, and in what numbers, has the NHS range of hearing aids been substantially up-dated in the past three years; and [HL801]

How many high frequency hearing aids have been supplied by the NHS; and [HL802]

How many mini-hearing aids have been supplied by the NHS; and [HL803]

In what number of NHS hearing aids have modern features been incorporated; and [HL804]

What modern features were introduced into some of the range of NHS hearing aids to make sounds clearer; and when they will be introduced into all NHS hearing aids. [HL805]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman)

Figures are only held for hearing aids supplied by NHS Supplies, which currently represents around 85 per cent. of the hearing aids supplied by the National Health Service. Alternative aids are available and can be prescribed to meet a clinical need. Aids which are more complex or expensive, such as those from the private sector, are not necessarily more effective.

NHS Supplies and its predecessors supplied 2,680,000 hearing aids between 1993 and 1998, 275,200 mini hearing aids between 1992 and 1998, 302,500 NHS hearing aids with modern features between 1993 and 1998 and 60,000 high frequency hearing aids between 1996 and 1998.

New products have been introduced and old technology has been deleted from the NHS Supplies range. Since 1995, NHS Supplies has introduced 15 new models. One hundred and eighty-eight thousand of these new model hearing aids have been supplied to the NHS.

The following features have been introduced into the NHS range over the last five years:

  • automatic gain control, both input and output
  • feedback reduction control
  • multichannel with wide dynamic range compression
  • introduction of Class D amplifiers and receivers.

The Government are constantly looking at ways to improve and modernise NHS hearing aid services.