Health & Well-being25th September 2014

Audiology services failing deaf children in England

NDCS identifies gaps in audiology services when it comes to dealing with deaf children

by Sarah Lawrence


The shocking state of children’s audiology services in England is revealed in a report published today.

1000 parents1 were consulted for Listen Up!, a report by the National Deaf Children’s Society, that highlights a number of failings, ranging from children being fitted with hearing aids that do not work, to audiologists misdiagnosing deaf children.

79%2 of parents reported waiting more than the Government’s recommended waiting time3 for appointments for replacement earmoulds – a vital part of the hearing aid which fits tightly into the ear and needs replacing frequently as a child’s ears grow. Almost all (96%)4 of parents reported waiting too long for the earmoulds to be ready.

In addition, parents reported waiting more than the recommend time5 for their child’s first audiology appointment with almost half (44%)6 reporting they waited five weeks or longer. A further 20% waited over eight weeks.

The report coincides with the Party Conferences to target MPs, as the Government has recently stopped assessing the quality of children’s audiology services.

Jo Campion, Deputy Director of Policy and Campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “The state of children’s audiology services in England is extremely concerning. Evidence clearly shows these vital services are not up to standard, yet the Government has recently stopped assessing services against quality standards, leaving little incentive or support for services to improve. This can only make matters worse for the 35,000 deaf children in England. We’re calling on the Government to ensure quality standards continue to be assessed.”

The National Deaf Children’s Society’s research was prompted by an earlier report by the NHS7  that revealed one third of audiology services are failing to meet basic standards.

Jo Campion continued: “Hearing is critical to a child’s development. As a deaf child grows they will need regular audiology appointments to ensure hearing aids fit well. Waiting a few days or weeks might not seem long, but if you add this up, a child misses out on a lot of crucial listening time in the vital early years. Every day a child is waiting is another day they lose out on hearing their parents, developing their language skills, learning from teachers, or joining in with conversations with friends. Currently thousands of deaf children are being put at a disadvantage by the very people who should be helping them.”

Sam Sykes is mother to 15 month old Tate who was diagnosed deaf when he was born. She said: “At three months old Tate was fitted with hearing aids, but the frequency was set too low so they didn’t work. I knew something was wrong but it was four months before the audiologist saw Tate again. I felt helpless. This had a huge effect on Tate’s development. He didn’t make any real noise until he was eight months old or say his first word until ten months. He’ll never get those crucial months back. It’s so important that the Government listens and improves audiology services.”

Further serious problems reported in Listen Up!, include:

  • Audiologists failing to use the most up to date tests and misdiagnosing deaf children – one parent reported it taking 12 months for their son to get a correct diagnosis, in this time his teachers thought he was misbehaving.
  • Audiologists failing to ensure hearing aids are set-up correctly – one parent said their child’s hearing aids were set up wrong three times in a row.

For more information, a copy of the report, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson or case study, contact Emma Prince, Senior Media Relations Officer, on 0207 014 1149

Listen Up!

  • 1The National Deaf Children’s Society’s Listen Up! campaign and report was prompted by a detailed analysis of each NHS audiology service quality report which were published in summer 2014 – and through surveying more than 1,000 parents in England
  • 2848 parents responded to the question ‘How long does it take to get an appointment for your child to have new earmould impressions when needed. 79.4% told us they had to wait three days and beyond. 10.1% of parents told us they had to wait more than 31 days.
  • 3The Government recommends the wait for an appointment for a replacement ear mould is two working days, and three working days to receive the ear mould.
  • 4852 parents responded to the question ‘How long does it take for you to receive your child’s new earmoulds after the impression appointment?’ 96.5% told us they had to wait over three days. 3.9% had to wait more than 31 days.
  • 5The Government recommends newborn babies who have been identified as deaf, should receive an audiology appointment within four weeks.
  • 61057 parents responded to the question ‘How long did it take to get an audiology appointment from the point your child was referred?’ 44% told us they had to wait five weeks or longer. 20.2% of parents told us they had to wait over eight weeks.
  • 7
  • For more information on the evidence, methodology and analysis behind this report, please visit

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

25th September 2014