NHS crisis ‘puts deaf children’s needs at risk’

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Deaf children’s futures are being jeopardised by understaffed audiology services in Bedfordshire, a new report suggests.

The survey found 55 per cent of services across the area reported recent staffing reductions and said they were struggling to fill vacancies.

This figure is significantly higher than when services were last surveyed in 2012.

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 per cent of services in England haven’t completed IQIPS and many have not even begun.

Bedfordshire dad Bryan Williams, whose son Bruin uses the local audiology service, said: “We’ve had endless issues over the years and I think there should be inspections to make sure audiology services are good quality.

“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 per cent of his hearing.

“They’re clearly stretched too thin because waiting times are unacceptable.”

The National Deaf Children’s Society has created a map so patients can check the status of local services.