WQ92403 (e) Tabled on 12/04/2024

What assessment has the Cabinet Secretary made of a) the success of the primary care audiology pilot in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in reducing waiting times for NHS adult hearing loss services and b) whether alternative solutions may be more effective?

Answered by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care | Answered on 18/04/2024

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) audiology model is offering an integrated primary and secondary care pathway to manage hearing and related conditions (tinnitus and balance).  Best practice has been shared with other health boards and underpins wider national roll out.

The key aim of providing primary care audiology services is to reduce waiting time in secondary care and release GP capacity, which the pilot has succeeded in doing. Greater improvements will be made as additional primary care audiology services are rolled out across the health board.

BCUHB data has shown, more than 60,000 people have been seen by point of contact audiology services and more than 9,000 people have been seen by audiology in the primary care wax management service during the pilot. Currently 11 of the 14 clusters have first point of contact primary care audiology services in place, treating and managing people in primary care and reducing referrals to GPs and secondary care/ENT.

Wales continues to lead the way in audiology services and are well-regarded by UK audiology professionals. In part, this reflects the innovative work to deliver first point of contact primary care models aligned to Wales Audiology Quality Standards. 

As the audiology role continues to develop, there will be further reduction in referrals to GPs and secondary care, which will improve the waiting times backlog.