Edinburgh man 'forced to go private' after year-long wait for hearing aid check

An Edinburgh pensioner was forced to pay out of his own pocket for a private hearing aid check after being put on a year-long waiting list.

John Rowan, 68, referred himself for a new hearing test after noticing he was struggling to understand basic conversations. Mr Rowan's hearing loss originated from contracting measles as a child.

In May 2023, John claimed he was told his appointment would be in May 2024 - despite the Scottish Government setting a waiting time target of 18 weeks.

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Labour MSP Sarah Boyack then raised John's case with the health board when his hearing became progressively worse. John recently made the decision to go private and has since received hearing aids.

Once John had paid out of pocket for the referral and hearing aids, the health board got in touch to confirm an appointment for August 2024 as the 68-year-old admitted he was getting "desperate."

He added: "My hearing test was due in May, however, unfortunately it was pushed back with no date given to me for when I might be tested.

"Due to the ongoing delay, I had to resort to going private to ensure I got the hearing aids I desperately needed.

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"My loss of hearing affects me in day-to-day life, as I struggle to listen to conversations which I need to hear in the roles that I do with the voluntary sector.

"I am incredibly concerned if more is not done to tackle these waiting times then my hearing will only deteriorate further.

Sarah Boyack MSP said: “Mr Rowan’s case illustrates the dire state that the Scottish Government have left NHS Lothian in. These delays and missed targets dramatically affect patients’ lives.

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“It is unacceptable that Mr Rowan is facing further deterioration of his hearing due to delays. The Scottish Government must address the crisis in NHS Lothian as an immediate priority.

“No one should be having to pay out of pocket simply to be able to hear conversations with friends and family. If they don’t I fear cases such as Mr Rowan’s will only become more common.”

Health Secretary Neil Gray said: “I am very sorry to hear of Mr Rowan’s experience and I will reach out to Sarah Boyack MSP for further detail on this case.

“Our £1 billion NHS Recovery Plan has delivered a significant reduction for the longest waits and continues to support an increase in activity through the implementation of sustainable improvements and new models of care. Our continued partnership with NHS Scotland’s Centre for Sustainable Delivery (CfSD) plays a central role in this.

“We know that challenges remain, but we are determined to provide Health Boards with the support necessary to drive improvements and will continue to target resources to reduce waiting times, particularly for those waiting longest for treatment.”

Gillian Cunningham, Service Director of Outpatient and Associated Services, NHS Lothian, said: “We apologise to any patients who have waited too long for an audiology outpatient appointment. We know how distressing it can be and we would reassure patients that we are working to reduce waiting times across NHS Lothian.

“We cannot discuss individual’s care without their consent and we would urge any patients with concerns to contact us directly.”