Deaf children at L&D Hospital ‘jeopardised’

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Luton and Dunstable (L&D) University Hospital and Bedfordshire audiology services are under fire from the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The charity’s survey of children’s audiology services found 55% of audiology services across the East reported recent staffing reductions and said they were struggling to fill vacancies.

This figure is significantly higher than the 2012 survey.

Since then, the government has replaced mandatory inspections of children’s audiology services with a voluntary scheme known as IQIPS.

Given the pressures identified in the survey, the report raises concerns that service quality could be slipping without mandatory inspections.

Currently, 85% of services in England haven’t completed IQIPS and many have not even begun, the society finding that L&D University Hospital was not engaging with IQIPS.

Bedfordshire dad Bryan Williams, whose son Bruin uses the audiology service there, said: “ I think there should be inspections. It took five years of constantly fighting for appointments, tests and treatments to get a diagnosis. Then they did what they could, but it was too late - my son had already lost 60% of his hearing.”

An L&D University Hospital spokeswoman, said:“We are always looking to improve our capacity in ENT outpatients and provide a better experience for our patients.

“Current plans include the potential to increase staffing and the redesign of pathways to improve service delivery and capacity. We do have a shortage of audiologists, however this is a nationally recognised problem.”