The Scottish Government has responded to the Independent National Review of Audiology Services, setting out the initial steps it will take to improve the provision of these vital services across Scotland.
Here, Associate Director for Health at RNID, Crystal Rolfe, explains what the Scottish Government have said now, what it means for people who use audiology services, and how RNID will continue to campaign for high quality audiology services across Scotland.
Why was there an Independent Review of Scottish Audiology Services?
The Review was commissioned by the Scottish Government in January 2022 in response to failings in paediatric audiology services in NHS Lothian. The purpose of the National Review was to examine both paediatric and adult audiology services across Scotland, and for recommendations to be made on how the services could be improved. RNID ensured the needs of our communities were represented throughout the Review.
More information on the Review can be found in this blog which I wrote in August when the report was published.
What did the Scottish Government say?
Answering a written question in Scottish Parliament, the Minister for Public Health , Jenni Minto MSP, outlined that the Scottish Government “accepts all recommendations from the Review in principle, and will now establish a National Implementation Group to examine how best to implement the recommendations.”
The answer also highlighted that the National Implementation Group will bring together partners from the charity sector and health services and ensure that people with lived experience are “front and centre as changes are made.”
Did the Scottish Government accept the Review’s recommendations?
The Scottish Government accepts all the recommendations from the Review in principle. Once established, the National Implementation group will look at how best to implement each recommendation.
We hope that this should include the creation of:
- A national policy lead for audiology
- An Audiology Specialist Advisory Group – a single body with oversight of paediatric and adult audiology services which reports to the Scottish Government.
Timing of the Scottish Government’s response
While we are pleased to see all recommendations have been accepted, we are disappointed that this response from the Government comes nearly four months after the report was published. Given that many of the recommendations had a timeframe of less than six months there was a need for urgency in how the Government responded. We urge the Government to act swiftly in implementing the recommendations following this welcome response.
What about ear wax removal services?
When the Scottish Government announced the Audiology Review it excluded wax removal services from the terms of reference. However, we know that access to ear wax removal is a key issue for our communities and we are continuing to press officials in Scotland for improvements in the service offered to patients.
If you’ve been personally affected by this issue you can contact your local MSP.
RNID will continue to represent the needs of patients to both the Scottish Government, Health Boards, and audiology services in Scotland. In the Spring we will be publishing the results from our survey on peoples’ experiences of audiology services, and we hope that these can inform the implementation of the Review.
We particularly welcome the Scottish Government’s comment that third sector representation on the Implementation Group can help them ‘ensure the voices of those with lived experience are front and centre as changes are made’.
The response from Scottish Government is welcome, and we look forward to more detail about the next steps at the earliest opportunity. We would particularly like to see further information on when the National Implementation Group will be formed, its membership, and its plan for implementing the recommendations. We look forward to engaging with the implementation group and continue to support the improvement to audiology services across Scotland.