Urgent action is needed to clear a backlog of 500,000 people waiting – some of them for two years – for new hearing aids on the NHS in England, MPs have said.
The House of Commons Health Committee said not enough priority has been given to the supply of new digital hearing aids by the government or local Primary Care Trusts.
And the committee is "surprised" the authorities failed to anticipate a surge in demand after the introduction of the digital devices.
About seven million people in England are affected by hearing loss, but the NHS is currently able to supply and fit digital aids to only 500,000 adults a year.
The committee added that audiology should be added to the list of services covered by the government's target to cut waiting times from referral to treatment to 18 weeks by December 2008.
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