30 June 2023
NCHA member update – 30 June
- HCPC improves fitness-to-practice standards
- Consultation on tympanometry procedure
- More details emerge about paediatric audiology failures
- Covid unlikely to cause hearing loss
- Other sector news
- Health Policy updates
The HCPC has met 16 out of 18 standards of good regulation, regaining two fitness-to-practice standards and one concerning the registration of international applicants.
In 2021-22, it met 13 standards, a performance that gave the Professional Standards Authority 'significant concerns' about its working systems.
Concerns remain about the quality of fitness-to-practice investigations and the time taken to complete them.
The British Society of Audiology is seeking feedback on proposed updates to its recommended procedure for tympanometry and acoustic reflex threshold testing.
The NCHA encourages hearing-aid dispensers and clinical scientists to participate.
The main changes are:
- The merging of recommended procedures for tympanometry and acoustic reflex threshold testing
- Inclusion of wideband acoustic immittance testing
- More detail about interpreting results
- An emphasis on clinical competency and shared decision-making.
Five paediatric audiology departments in England have been named as having lower-than-average rates of diagnosis of sensorineural hearing impairment, which affects one or two babies in every thousand born in the UK. This follows system failures identified in NHS Lothian that led to delays in diagnosing and treating hearing losses in children.
The Sunday Times named the departments in two articles that featured a family who were told repeatedly that their profoundly deaf son was fine.
The second article highlighted that staff had raised concerns about the potential impact of Public Health England reducing oversight of quality checks.
NHS England has set up a steering committee to look in more detail at what went wrong. The move comes as the National Deaf Children's Society revealed that two-thirds of deaf children in England are already behind their peers by their first year in school, adding to the argument for diagnosis as early as possible so that support can be established.
Covid-19 is unlikely to have a significant long-term impact on the auditory system, according to a study in the International Journal of Audiology.
The researchers, from the University of Manchester and the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, carried out extensive audiological assessments on two groups, the first consisting of patients admitted to hospital with Covid and the second a group of patients who had never had the virus.
There were no differences in behavioural and physiological measures. A few people reported they had to work harder to listen after the virus, but no hearing abnormalities were found.
- Deaf Rainbow UK celebrates the deaf LGBTQ+ community this Pride month.
- Learn about what it's like to be deafblind as part of Deafblind Awareness Week 2023
- New research has found that otoacoustic emissions testing used to detect hearing loss can also shed light on pitch discrimination
- Singer-songwriter Paul Simon's touring hangs in the balance after a sudden loss of hearing while writing his latest album. See the full CBS interview.
NHS workforce plan
The eagerly-awaited NHS workforce plan has finally been launched by the government. It promises:
- £2.4 billion in funding for the next five years
- 300,000 extra staff by 2037
- Medical school places to double to 15,000 a year by 2031
- New scheme for apprentice doctors
- More flexibility aimed at staff retention.
The changes attempt to address major workforce shortages across the NHS as it approaches its 75th anniversary. The announcement follows a report of record levels of staff sickness - the equivalent of 17,000 more staff off each day compared with 2019, from the Nuffield Trust, and a warning from the BMA that GPs, junior doctors, specialist doctors and consultants could all strike in the lead-up to the next general election.
Government lukewarm on Hewitt recommendations
The government gave a non-committal response to the recommendations of reviews of integrated care systems by the former health secretary Patricia Hewitt and the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
While it said it was already supporting many of the recommendations on improving health outcomes, it refused to agree to increase the share of local NHS budgets being spent on prevention by at least one percentage point over the next five years.