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Appointment of Professor Jacqueline Taylor as the chair of a National Audiology Review Group Welcomed

The National Deaf Society has welcomed the appointment of Professor Jacqueline Taylor as the chair of a National Audiology Review Group.

The appointment follows on from a damning report  published in December 2021 which outlined a series of errors in the treatment provided to children by Paediatric Audiology in NHS Lothian.

Mark Ballard, Head of Policy for Scotland at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:

“We welcome the appointment of Professor Taylor and it’s a clear signal that the Scottish Government is treating this issue with the gravity it requires.

“The total number of families affected by NHS Lothian’s failures is still unknown. Among those that were, there are deaf children who have been left dealing with life-changing consequences.

“We need this review to not only right a serious injustice, but also to make sure that this isn’t happening in other areas across Scotland.

“It is a crucial step towards making sure that no family ever has to go through this again.”

The report revealed cases of deaf children being wrongly deprived of crucial technology, incorrectly discharged or identified years later than they should have been.

Some had been left with life-changing consequences as a result.

Speaking about her appointment ,Professor Taylor said:

“I look forward to working with this group over the coming months.

“We expect to engage with the widest range of professionals and stakeholders in this area, identifying any gaps in provision but also learning from good practice.

“NHS Scotland provides some of the best healthcare treatment in the world, but where issues emerge it is important to understand what went wrong and how this can be rectified.”

The report was carried out by the British Academy of Audiology and examined NHS Lothian’s children’s audiology caseload of 22,900 from 2009-2018.

It sampled 1,007 cases and found there were concerns about assessment and care in 887 of them (88%). Of those, 155 had “significant concerns”.

The specific findings of the report included:

  • The average age of children identified as deaf under NHS Lothian was 1,653 days (4.53 years old), compared to 109 days in England. The report says this appeared to have gone “unreported and un-noticed.”
  • 12 children were eligible for cochlear implantation, but this was significantly delayed, to the extent where some missed out on getting them altogether.
  • There was no evidence that nine of the children were offered a hearing aid, even though it would likely have helped them.
  • 49 children had a delayed identification of hearing loss or the fitting of their hearing aid was delayed.
  • 30 were not offered the right hearing aids.
  • The remainder of the 155 were wrongly discharged or mismanaged.

Commenting on the work of the review group, Humza Yousaf, Health Secretary in the Scottish Government said:

“I am determined that our hearing services are fit for purpose in Scotland following the unacceptable failures in NHS Lothian which came to light last year and this group will help identify any wider issues and areas for improvement.”