Fast access to NNUH audiology highlighted nationally
Fast access to audiology services at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust has led to national recognition in a project designed to help other hospitals learn to improve their services.
Re-design of services at NNUH and Cromer Hospital have resulted in waiting times for hearing aids falling over the last year from 25 weeks to 12 weeks for new patients and from 25 to 11 weeks for patients needing a re-assessment and fitting.
Last week, MPs criticised audiology services nationally when some patients were found to be waiting up to two years for new NHS hearing aids.
The Norwich team's success is being used as a national case study under a Department of Health programme that aims to help all hospitals deliver a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment by December 2008.
A range of measures have taken place in Norwich and helped deliver improved audiologist productivity by some 15 per cent. They include the introduction of a “fit and go” one-stop assessment and fitting service, using telephone follow-ups for some patients, extending the working day, so patients can be seen earlier and later in the day and developing the role of assistant audiologists.
Head of Audiology, Dr John Fitzgerald, said: “We have worked very hard to develop a good and prompt service for our patients and we are delighted that the work we have been doing for some time in Norwich and Cromer is now being shared nationally to help improve services elsewhere.”