North Hampshire Hospital has been selected for the modernisation of its hearing aid services. Sir George, who has been campaigning on this issue with the Royal National Institue for the Deaf, has welcomed the news.
"Many of my constituents have heard about the new digital hearing aids, but have been frustrated that they cannot get them. Hopefully, to-day's news will bring these aids within their reach."
Below is the letter sent to Sir George by the RNID's Chief Executive.
10 April 2002
Dear Sir George,
We are delighted that the Department of Health has selected an NHS Trust in your constituency for modernisation of its audiology services, enabling it to provide cutting-edge digital hearing aids.
We would like to thank you for your support in encouraging the Trusts and PCTs in your constituency to apply to become one of the modernised sites, and to make the financial commitment necessary. It is evident that the selection of Trusts was significantly influenced by a demonstration of this commitment.
We are sure that before long you will begin to see the enormous benefits that the modernised service will bring to many of your constituents. Research from the First Wave of modernisation has shown that digital hearing aids confer an extraordinary 41% increase in patient satisfaction over analogue hearing aids, as people are experiencing improved hearing and wearing their hearing aids for longer.
We are aware that, despite this fantastic news, some of your constituents, together with hundreds of thousands of people across the country will still not have access to modernised audiology services. We are continuing to put pressure on the Government to commit to rolling out these services across the whole country as soon as possible.
Trusts that have not yet been selected are able, using their own resources, to purchase digital aids through the central contract. At present the cost is just £150 per aid and, following negotiations now taking place, the price is expected to fall significantly. Preparing for modernisation in this way would help Trusts demonstrate the ability and willingness that the Department of Health will value when deciding which 15 sites will receive funding for training and equipment later this year, and when considering future applications. We ask you to continue to reinforce this message to the health commissioners in your constituency.