BAA and BSA letter to Scottish Government

01.03.24

This week, the British Academy of Audiology (BAA) and British Society of Audiology (BSA) wrote to several representatives of the Scottish Government asking for an update on plans for implementation of recommendations from the National Review of Audiology.

The letter, which was sent to Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care; Jenni Minto, Public Health Minister, Scottish government; and Catherine Ross, Chief Scientific Officer, Scotland, was co-signed by BAA President, Dr Samantha Lear and BSA Chair, Donna Corrigan and can be read below.

Dear Mr Matheson, Ms Minto, Ms Ross,

We write to ask for an update about the next steps following the independent National Review of Audiology in Scotland, which was commissioned by ministers in January 2022. As you will know, the national review was announced following the review of NHS Lothian’s Paediatric Audiology Service carried out by the British Academy of Audiology, which found that there were multiple failings that led to missed or significantly delayed diagnosis of hearing loss in children, leading to delays in appropriate treatment adversely affecting some children for life.

Both of our organisations – the British Academy of Audiology (BAA) and the British Society of Audiology (BSA) – contributed significantly to the work done for the review. The review highlighted systemic issues both within audiology services themselves and in the wider healthcare system, which adversely affected the quality of service provision.

We were satisfied that the final report from the National Review published in August 2023 included many sound recommendations essential to assure quality in Scottish Audiology services. This included recommendations that required urgent action to ensure that the failings seen in NHS Lothian would not affect more children.

However, many months after completion of the review and three months after publication of the report, we are disappointed that we still have not received any update about the plans to implement the recommendations made in the report.

We understand that money was made available for Health Boards for training in Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) in response to one of the most urgent recommendations. We would like to know how that money will be used, and how competency will be assured after any training is complete. Training alone is not sufficient to assure competency; this requires a period of supervised practice and a robust system of peer review to avoid the same failings as identified in the report and must be eliminated.

You may be aware that similar issues are now being highlighted in services in England. The need for high standards of training, the subsequent maintenance of competency and need for external peer review of services against robust quality standards has never been more apparent.

We would welcome a meeting between our organisations and yourself to discuss your plans for implementing the recommendations from the National Review of Audiology, and to understand how we can contribute to and support this implementation.

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