The HSE’s National Audiology Review (NAR, April 2011) listed a priority as to “Implement a National Newborn Hearing Screening Programme” in Ireland.
In addition to the HSE’s estimated, annual €11 million funding for audiology services, €3.7 million was made available to apply NAR recommendations.
From this total, just under €2 million was to fund implementation of the first phase of the universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) programme.
On April 26th 2011, in line with the NAR, Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) began universal newborn hearing tests. This UNHS program is an initiative expected to roll out nationwide, with completion by end-2012.
With Waterford Regional Hospital scheduled as the next to provide UNHS, parents and supporters are anxious to see the initiative finally rolling out.
Waiting times for audiology services at Waterford Regional Hospital were in the media recently, with average waiting times soaring to 20 months. This delay is serious for deaf/ hard-of-hearing babies and children because early detection is vital both to their child development, and to their life prospects.
Nationwide implementation of UNHS is not easy and will be time-consuming, but with two babies on average born deaf every week, it is a vital service.
Audiology waiting-lists in Galway also got recent mention in a media piece that claims over a thousand local children are waiting to see an audiologist.
Ireland lags other countries in UNHS terms, but the NAR is a roadmap for provision of the audiology and detection services offered in other countries.
(compiled by Nicola Fox)
- The HSE’s National Audiology Review document (April 2011)
- Cork University Maternity Hospital Begins UNHS
- UNHS: Obligatory, Voluntary Or Not Necessary?
- Newborn Hearing Tests Support Early Intervention
- Galway: one thousand children on waiting-lists
- Waterford Regional: Audiology waiting lists ‘unacceptable’