Concerns over two-year wait to access hearing aids after NHS Grampian reveals chronic staffing shortages


Liam Kerr MSP has raised concerns about two-year waits to access hearing aids in the North East after NHS Grampian revealed chronic staffing shortages have meant each of its audiologists are responsible for 8,000 more patients than other health boards.

The Scottish Conservative North East MSP wrote to NHS Grampian after constituents said they felt “let down” and “marginalised” due to the huge waits for hearing aids at Woodend Hospital compared to just six weeks at other health boards.

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In a response to Mr Kerr, NHS Grampian said it was significantly underfunded by the Scottish Government for audiology despite having an older demographic than other parts of the country.

The health board added that having no audiology degree course in Scotland has been a major factor in the recruitment struggles which has forced NHS Grampian to look to other parts of the UK and overseas for staff.

Scottish Conservative North East MSP Liam Kerr said: “It is completely unacceptable that people in need of hearing aids are having to wait two years to get the help they desperately require.

“Many people can’t afford to go private and as a result, are having to suffer in silence.

“Hearing aids can vastly improve the quality of people’s lives and help prevent the social isolation felt by those in distress due to hearing loss.

“Patients, particularly those who are older and the most vulnerable, are being badly let down by the SNP Government who are significantly underfunding NHS Grampian and departments such as audiology.

“This is a cry for help from NHS Grampian whose staffing struggles have clearly reached breaking point but it’s clear that the Scottish Government aren’t interested and would rather wipe these serious issues under the carpet.

“NHS Grampian should be commended for frankly revealing the scale of the challenge and doing the best they can within the budget constraints inflicted upon them by the SNP.

“At the Scottish Parliament, I will continue to pressure ministers to give NHS Grampian its fair share of funding to help address the challenges facing audiology.”

In his response to Mr Kerr, NHS Grampian interim chief executive Dr Adam Coldwells said: “The NHS Grampian audiology department is underfunded when compared to other departments across Scotland.

“At present, the ratio of audiologists to patients within Grampian is 1:28,295 whereas the average for all other areas in Scotland is 1:19,988.

“This means that each audiologist in Grampian is responsible for roughly 8,000 more patients than colleagues elsewhere.

“Grampian also has a comparatively older population than some other areas in the country and, since audiology patients are typically elderly, this demographic factor also increases demand within NHS Grampian.

“The above factors contribute to an average wait for first assessment by Audiology within NHS Grampian of roughly one year.”

He added: “Many of these issues are systemic and will require significant time and investment to resolve satisfactorily.

“I am sorry that your constituents have been faced with waiting times significantly longer than they had expected.”

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