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Royal National Institute for Deaf People Website

Department of Health Website


Wednesday 10 April 2002


Health Minister, Jacqui Smith today announced that Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust will be providing digital hearing aids as part of a modernised hearing aid service.

The Trust will begin providing the hearing aids in the next 12 months. The Trust is part of a £20million investment in digital hearing aids during 2002-03. The investment will fund a total of 27 adult sites and 30 paediatric audiology sites around the country.

Jacqui Smith said:

"We need to provide modern, good quality services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The extension of this project shows how we are working with health communities up and down the country to bring the hearing aid service people receive into the 21st Century.

"We have invested more than £30 million in this project which is being enthusiastically welcomed by those who provide for the needs of people with hearing impairment as well as service users, themselves."

James Strachan of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf said:

"This is great news for thousands of NHS patients who will be able to benefit from cutting edge technology.

"The Government's commitment to modernise audiology in intially another 27 Adult and 30 Paediatric sites means that we can look forward to digital hearing aids being available to deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere in the future.

"RNID has campaigned long and hard for digital hearing aids, which can revolutionise people's lives and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the Department of Health to achieve this."

Susan Daniels of the National Deaf Children's Society said:

"This is a significant step in the right direction, and we look forward to the day when every deaf child is provided with the very best technology the NHS can provide."

Notes to Editors:

1. The project is breaking new ground in policy development. The Department of Health is working closely with a number of partners to deliver the project. The RNID are managing the project on behalf of the Department of Health and it is being evaluated by the Institute for Hearing Research on an ongoing basis. The full evaluation will be completed by the end of 2002
with a report published at a later date.

2. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health media centre Tel: 020 7210 5375/5315/5231.