Scotland

Severely deaf to get hearing implant upgrades every five years

cochlear

Severely deaf people who use cochlear implants will receive the latest hearing aid upgrades every five years, the Scottish government has announced.

Ministers said the £3.2m plan would make sure patients benefited from the most up-to-date technological advances.

A cochlear implant is surgically-implanted behind the ear.

It works with a sound processor to allow people with severe deafness to regain some hearing.

The effect can be dramatic - helping profoundly deaf children to go to mainstream schools and older people to be less isolated.

Newer processors are being developed all the time which improve sound quality.

Until now, they were only replaced if they stopped working.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the government investment would "improve patients' quality of life".

Language skills

She said: "This is a substantial investment in a small, specialised service which will make a real difference to those children and adults who rely on cochlear implants for a better quality of life.

"For children, especially young children, cochlear implants can give an understanding of sound that will help them develop speech and language skills that allow them to integrate into mainstream society.

"The technology in this area is developing all the time, with newer, better processors becoming available that can improve sound quality and the functionality of the device.

"It is only right that we give patients access to this life-changing technology and I'm extremely pleased to be able to announce the funding that will deliver a roll-out of this national five-year upgrade programme."

About one in every 1,000 children is severely or profoundly deaf by the age of three and this rises to two in 1,000 by the age of 16.

The use of cochlear implants is also increasing among older people who develop deafness as part of the ageing process.

Heather Gray, director of the National Deaf Children's Society Scotland, welcomed news of the technology roll-out.

She said: "With the right support, we know that deaf children can achieve as much as their hearing peers.

"But the persisting education attainment gap for deaf children shows we still have much to do to ensure we are getting it right for this small, often overlooked group of children.

"This investment is a step towards closing the gap and is very welcome."

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