Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (245)

Dara Calleary


245. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that funding for bilateral cochlear implants is allocated in the 2014 Health Service Executive service plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45422/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Beaumont Hospital is the centre for delivering Ireland's national cochlear implant programme, with surgical provision for patients under six years being carried out in the Children's University Hospital Temple Street. Since the programme commenced in 1995, over 700 patients have received cochlear implants. Beaumont Hospital carried out ninety cochlear implants in 2012 (42 children and 48 adults). The routine practice in Ireland, so far, has been to implant one side only.

It is now considered best practice worldwide that children should have the option of bilateral implants, and this is reflected in the recommendation of the report of the National Review of Audiology Services which was carried out by the HSE in 2009. The aim of that Review was to examine the services provided to children and adults nationwide, and to formulate a national plan for the services. Its report was published by the HSE in 2011 and provides the blueprint for the planning, development and delivery of HSE audiology services. The Report recommended continued ring-fenced support for the cochlear implant programme but at levels which allow for simultaneous bilateral implantation for children.

The HSE has developed a proposal, in liaison with Beaumont Hospital, to introduce a bilateral cochlear implant programme in Ireland. In doing so, the HSE has engaged with many stakeholders. Introduction of bilateral cochlear implantation is expected to involve additional staff, equipment and capital works. The resources required will be considered in the context of the Health Estimate for 2014, announced on 15 October last, and the development of the HSE's National Service Plan 2014.