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Charity attacks hearing aid waits

A charity has hit out at the "postcode lottery" surrounding hearing aids after revealing some patients are waiting up to two-and-a-half years for an NHS device.

The Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) said the Government must "end this scandal" after naming 10 trusts that are not treating people within a year, despite the target being 18 weeks.

Kingston NHS Primary Care Trust in south-west London was labelled as the worst, as patients there have to wait 125 weeks for a hearing aid after first seeing their GP.

The nine other PCTs with waits of more than a year are: Suffolk (78 weeks), Gloucestershire (72), Tyne and Wear: Washington Health Centre (68), Ealing (67), Havering (64), Tyne & Wear: Sunderland Royal Hospital (62), Shepway (58), Mid Essex (56) and South Tees (54).

RNID director of communications Brian Lamb said: "Despite Government assurances, an 18-week target is a distant dream for thousands of people waiting over a year for their first hearing aid, who are battling isolation and depression because of their hearing loss."

But a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We acknowledge that audiology waiting times in parts of the country are too high, and that is why we recently published a national framework which sets out the tools the local NHS needs to transform this service."

Related story: Study examines healthcare for the deaf

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