The wellbeing budget delivered another cruel blow to the 200 adults waiting for a cochlear implant with no additional money allocated to address the growing issue.
Northern Cochlear Implant Trust CEO, Lee Schoushkoff says the government’s decision is cruel and will continue to have a huge impact on the lives of patients already waiting in excess of two years for a cochlear implant.
“To lose your hearing is frightening. To communicate is to be part of society. Hearing loss is not just about the absence of sound; it’s also about the loss of people’s social life, being cut off from family, friends and work. It is no exaggeration to say that it can destroy lives. It’s isolating, frustrating and lonely.
“Furthermore, our clinicians have had to play God in relation to who can and cannot get a cochlear implant. Today, our government delivered a wellbeing budget that sees our clients face such disparity of access to treatment, it is simply diabolical,” says Schoushkoff.
Working closely with the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme, both trusts have had numerous meetings with the Ministry and provided in-depth briefings to Minister’s, for it all to fall on deaf ears.
Peter Aitken, Chairman of the Pindrop Foundation says, “The digital revolution has changed the lives for many adults affected by severe to profound hearing loss with the advancement of cochlear implant technology. The quality of sound and access to hearing in real world settings has meant tremendous gains in quality of life and life opportunities for individuals.
“Without an increase in sustainable funding, based on current referral rates there could be 500 adults waiting for a cochlear implant in as little as four years. For cochlear implants to be denied to so many affected is abhorrent.”
Josie Calcott knows only too well what years of waiting for a cochlear implant can do. As a nurse, mother and marathon runner, severe hearing loss has had a profound effect on her life.
“The emotional and social impact on me was immense; isolation, frustration, shame and embarrassment; feelings of incompetency and loss of confidence. At work, it was always a challenge with communication. There are also ripple out effects on family, friends and colleagues. A cochlear implant changed all that.
“If only the wellbeing budget had considered the lives and wellbeing of adults living with a severe to profound hearing loss we could break out from the walls of our disability.”
Notes to Editor:
About the Pindrop Foundation and Cochlear Implants
· The Pindrop Foundation is a New Zealand charity supporting severely hearing impaired adults into a hearing world through cochlear implant technology and services.
· A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid. Hearing aids turn up the volume by amplifying sounds to make them easier for damaged ears to detect. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the hearing (auditory) nerve.
· In New Zealand, forty cochlear implants are publicly funded for adults each year. There is approximately 200 adults currently assessed for a cochlear implant for whom there is not the funding available.
· World Health Organisations, World Hearing Day 2017 “Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment” draws attention to the economic impact of hearing loss. http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/world-hearing-day/2017/en/