Woman, 92, must wait 4 years for hearing test

A 92-year-old woman has been told she must wait four years for an appointment to check if she needs a hearing aid.

The waiting time was revealed in a parliamentary question to James Reilly, the health minister.

Noel Harrington, Fine Gael TD for Cork South West, said the Cork-based woman faced the significant wait despite her age.

Mr Harrington said he did not wish to comment publicly on his constituent’s plight until the HSE South explained why the woman faced the wait.

However, speaking in the Dáil, he asked his party colleague Dr Reilly whether he was “satisfied that a 92-year-old in Co Cork will have to wait for four years for an appointment to be assessed for a hearing aid”.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the delay “beggars belief”, adding that “there is clearly a problem with the audiology waiting times in Cork and in getting hearing aids”.

While the HSE South will not formally respond to the situation until it provides an answer to the parliamentary question, it remains unclear if the delay is due to the woman missing appointments, for an administrative reason, or because of service shortages.

The HSE South audiology services were the subject of a damning independent report published in Apr 2011 which found that a series of misdiagnoses occurred in the service between 2001 and 2007.

These included 16 cases involving children aged two to 16 in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, and a further four cases involving adults aged between 18 and over 65 who were given incorrect results during the period.

Rules on how to prevent a repeat of the situation were drawn up, including increasing the number of clinicians in the paediatric audiology service to one senior audiological scientist and three audiologists.

In the adult service, the number of audiologists has also been increased, from two to three.

Figures revealed in the Dáil in March showed that there were 1,708 adults waiting for hearing tests in the region at the time, and 50 more who were facing delays in receiving hearing aid fittings.

In addition, 1,899 children were told they had to wait for tests, with a further five waiting on hearing aids which they were told they needed.


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