NHS England recently published their ‘Action Plan on Hearing Loss’. What is it and what do we think?
What is the Action Plan on Hearing Loss?
Well, in the words of NHS England ‘The purpose of the document is to encourage action and promote change across all public service sectors and at all levels on how children’s, young people’s, working age adults and older people’s hearing needs can best be met.’
Who is the Plan for?
All public bodies that are responsible for ensuring the needs of deaf children and adults are met, like health authorities, local authorities, and central Government.
Is it statutory guidance?
No, the key actions in the Plan do not have to be followed by law.
What do we think?
We welcome its focus on the need for deaf children to achieve age appropriate language, the commitment to tackling low educational attainment and the focus on mental health. The Plan also recognises the variation in quality in hearing loss services, which is good. However it doesn’t go on to explain in detail how to fix this problem. NHS England do acknowledge that the document ‘is not intended to act as a detailed implementation plan’ but this admission without any further explanation, leaves us wondering if there will ever be a more detailed implementation plan and who will be responsible for it?
How does it match-up to our Listen Up! campaign asks?
In short, it doesn’t. Our Listen Up! campaign calls for:
1) action to be taken to improve failing audiology services now
2) mandatory quality assessments to take place through a programme called Improving Quality In Physiological Services (IQIPS) and
3) all information about the quality of children’s audiology services to be published now, so that families know how good their audiology service is.
Unfortunately the Plan doesn’t specify how services should take action to meet even minimum quality standards. It mentions IQIPS only once in an appendix, suggesting it as a way to ensure quality but does not state its use should be mandatory. There is no call to ensure all information about the quality of children’s audiology services undergoing the IQIPS process is published.
What can you do now?
- Take a look at the full plan to find out more.
- Take action and email your local health commissioner to find out about the quality of children’s audiology services in your area.
We are continuing our dialogue with NHS England to ensure that all deaf children and young people receive good quality audiology services. Keep an eye out for our next Listen Up! campaign update.