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Outrage at 17-month wait for Cwm Taf hearing tests.

Byline: Mark Smith Health Correspondent

A HEALTH board has issued an apology after it emerged its patients could face more than a 17-month wait for an NHS hearing reassessment.

Cwm Taf Health Board, which covers Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr, said the audiology department is working "tirelessly" to reduce the estimated waiting time, which currently stands at 73 weeks. While new patients are seen in three to four weeks for hearing tests and have hearing aids fitted within 14 weeks, patients needing a reassessment may not receive an appointment until November 2015.

The figures were revealed by Rhondda Cynon Taff Welsh Liberal Democrats after a freedom of information request. Campaign manager for the party Karen Roberts says the waiting times are "unacceptable". She said: "The request was submitted following feedback from a number of residents who had attended the local audiology clinic and been told they needed a hearing test but that the wait was more than 70 weeks.

"Diagnostic waiting times are unacceptably high across a whole range of specialities. In the case of people who are suffering from an impairment of hearing then it may not be life-threatening, but it does affect their quality of life."

A spokesman for Cwm Taf University Health Board said: "We sincerely apologise to anyone having to wait this length of time. The audiology department has been working tirelessly to reduce waits, whilst also prioritising those in greatest need. "As a result, the followup waiting list has been significantly reduced to 12 weeks in most cases, and the reassessment waiting list will be targeted as soon as possible.

"The department has achieved high scores in both the all-Wales paediatric and adult standards, and are one of the best performing organisations in Wales against these quality targets from the Welsh Government.

"The department is committed to improving care for patients."

Cwm Taf says it plans to collaborate with the Wales Council for Deaf People, a patient support group and a lip-reading teacher to help patients come to terms with their hearing loss.

The spokesman added: "Clearly there is more to be done in bringing down waiting times and we are committed to making that happen as soon as possible."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 25, 2014
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