On 3rd March 2021, NADP organised its second parliamentary event to commemorate World Hearing Day with the theme “Hearing Care for All”.
The event was supported by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Deafness and APPG for Disability and co-hosted by their respective chairs, Lilian Greenwood MP and Dr Lisa Cameron MP. The event coincided with the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing by the World Health Organisation which NADP Patron, Sue Archbold, and NADP Chair, Lidia Best, have contributed to. The event attracted 97 registered participants, including members of parliament.
Lilian kicked off the event by stating that the World Report on Hearing was an opportunity for the APPG to reflect on the current state of ear and hearing care, particularly with the additional challenges presented by the Covid pandemic. In particular, Lilian mentioned communication should be accessible to all and mentioned how clear face masks ought to be more widely used by healthcare professionals.
A link to the video made by Dr Shelly Chadha, who leads the WHO programme on deafness and hearing loss, launching the report on hearing loss, was made also made available to attendees.
Lidia then presented on behalf of NADP, highlighting the NHS Audiological Services Survey of 2018 and NADPs 2020 survey. Updating the problems NADP members have faced during the pandemic, and in particular, problems in accessing phone-based medical care (poor relay systems) solutions that exist and again promoting clear face masks.
Franki Oliver of RNID then presented ‘Access to Hearing Care for All’ reminding us all of NICE recommendations on the provision of hearing aids and the treatment of ear wax. There is still no mechanism to ensure that CCGs implement these recommendations. North Staffordshire has refused to provide hearing aids for mild and moderate hearing loss since 2015. Fortunately, earlier this year, they have been persuaded to provide hearing aids for people with moderate hearing loss, however, not for people with mild hearing loss. Many CCGs no longer provide wax removal services on the NHS.
Sue Archbold gave an update on the WHO findings. Approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide (1 in 5) have hearing loss. The annual cost to the world economy of not treating this properly is in the region 930$ US billion. In wealthy nations, only 5-10% of adults who would benefit from a CI are given one. The up-take in poorer countries is much less. Sue and Lidia have been instrumental in the formation of the Cochlear Implant International Community of Action.
Helen Cullington Chair of the British Cochlear Implant Group gave a very worthwhile presentation again highlighting challenges during the pandemic. There were stories of loneliness, despair and the problems of a 10-year-old schoolgirl who had remote lessons but the subtitles provided by her STTR were blocked by the school’s firewall. Helen identified that at the moment, the entire pathway of hearing assessment was inoperative. Routine appointments have been cancelled, hearing assessment no longer happens.
Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the APPG on Disability summed up the work of the APPG and paid tribute to the committee members, hearing professionals etc. who all worked so hard. She mentioned Early Day Motion 1549 and asked all to get their MPs on board.
The last word was given to Michael Chowen CBE DL who paid tribute to all involved and praised the work of the WHO.
Presentations from the event include:
A recording of the event will also be available shortly along with the transcript.