New Zealand Defence Force ruling under fire from audiologists


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Under a new proposed ruling, NZ military veterans who need hearing aids and examinations will be obliged to consult a supplier nominated by the Defence Force. Until now, veterans have been able to choose their audiologist and hearing aid supplier. The New Zealand Audiological Society fears that the change proposed by the NZDF may have a negative impact on veterans and the care they receive. The tender is for a national supplier but regional organizations will need to be involved as sub-contractors, since there is no single audiology supplier in New Zealand that covers the entire country.

According to the Audiological Society, many veterans are elderly and have seen the same care provider for many years. The new ruling would force them to change practitioner and could thus impact their continuity of care, a very important aspect for elderly patients. The new provider may not be familiar with the hearing aids currently used by some veterans, complicating their care. The society is concerned that “little or no attention has been given to the welfare of hearing-impaired veterans.” It also highlighted the right patients have to obtain an opinion from another healthcare provider, and to express a preference about who will effectively provide the service.

According to a spokeswoman from the NZDF, “Having contracts in place for the provision of these services will mean Veterans’ Affairs can establish the type of services to be provided, the quality required, fair prices for hearing aids, appliances and services, and expectations around how hearing providers will support veterans.”