I propose to take Questions Nos. 723 and 731 together.
The HSE has reviewed the proposal of the Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (ISHAA). Due to the costs involved, it is not possible for the HSE to agree to fund the proposal. The HSE is open to discussions with ISHAA on any further issues which it wishes to discuss.
The HSE's Audiology Clinical Care Programme is working on a number of concurrent initiatives to reduce waiting lists. The initiatives include a revalidation of the national waiting lists in 2012 and the development of standardised policies and procedures for referrals to services and collation of activity data. Merging and re-organisation of services across community and acute care into a single managerial and clinical structure with high quality clinical leadership will lead to more efficient use of staff resources. The HSE is at present actively recruiting for five clinical lead posts including a National Clinical Lead. In addition, the HSE is sponsoring ten MSc in Audiology students to study in the UK and it is hoped that they will be ready to join the workforce in September 2013.