Push to clear audiology waiting lists in Ireland


© Lisa Eastman - Fotolia

In April 2011, the Irish government published a National Audiology Review Report which highlighted a lack of regulation and serious shortcomings in audiology services in Ireland. The Irish Medical Times reports that more than two and half years after release of this report, there are about 5,000 adults who are still waiting for hearing assessment and fitting of hearing aids. There are also long waiting lists for children in several regions: more than 1,000 children have been waiting for a year or more in Cork and Galway.

According to the paper, the waiting lists are due to failure by the Health Service (HSE) to recruit key audiology professionals for many years, because of an international shortage of audiologists, but also because of the temporary suspension of recruitment for the public service in the country. However, several regional health services have now been given the go-ahead to fill vacancies as part of a waiver to the hire freeze. Also, the lack of regulations for the private sale of hearing aids has made it difficult for the HSE to include the commercial sector in efforts to clear the backlog.

The decision to provide digital hearing aids nationwide was a major health service enhancement, but it led to a lower number of patients actually being treated because clinicians needed extra time for diagnosis and careful individual assessment of the level of hearing impairment. “This has, unfortunately, resulted in an increase in the waiting period for the service,” indicated a spokesperson for the HSE South. Additionally, a national model for newborn hearing screening is in the works.

Source: Irish Medical Times