People hard of hearing have had to wait longer to be fitted with hearing aids in Leeds than anywhere else in the country, new figures have revealed.
Analysis of NHS waiting times by Specsavers has shown on average patients in Leeds have had to wait around four months for hearing aids, while almost 40 per cent of the city’s patients were not seen within the 18-week NHS target from referral by their GP for treatment.
Overall patients in Leeds waited on average around three-and-a-half times the national average time for audiology services, sparking concerns of the isolation of people with hearing loss in the city. A joint statement from Leeds’ three NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCG) claims they have invested in the service to bring down waiting times by enabling providers to offer extra clinics for patients.
Roger Wicks, director for policy and research at the Action on Hearing Loss charity, said: “Hearing loss is a serious health condition that can lead to isolation, unemployment and dementia. We know that tackling hearing problems early on offers people far greater benefits, especially when it comes to adjusting to their hearing aids however, for many it can take 10 years to take action, so we appreciate that four months is going to cause further frustration.”
The figures were taken in November 2014 when Leeds ranked as England’s worst for waiting times.
NHS Leeds West CCG had the longest average wait at nearly 17 weeks, while less than 60 per cent of its patients were seen within 18 weeks. The latest statistics for December waiting times have fallen. A spokesman for Leeds’ three CCGs said they are in the process of increasing their community ear, nose and throat services, which are hoped to bring down waiting times further.