The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

Review of cochlear implantation in Scotland

Fiona Mackenzie

As Chairperson of BATOD Scotland, I was asked to represent Teachers of the Deaf on this group, to review the position of cochlear implantation in Scotland.

Cochlear implantation in Scotland is centrally funded from the Scottish Executive and takes place in 2 sites. Edinburgh (adults only) and Kilmarnock. (adults and paediatrics).

Apart from myself, representing Teachers of the Deaf, the group consisted of representatives from both implant centres, parents of an implanted child, an adult implant user, referring clinicians, speech and language therapists and the NSD (National Services Division of NHS Scotland). Professor Quentin Summerfield was in the chair.

The meeting opened with an explanation as to why the committee had been called.

The NSD's responsibilities were in commissioning national specialised services on behalf of the 15 NHS Boards, ensuring that the services met quality requirements and provided equity of access. NSD had an obligation to look at the value and quality provided by each of the nationally designated services on a 3-5 year basis and, since the cochlear implantation programme had not been reviewed since 1999, it was now time to look at the service again, particularly in regard to:

  • progress made against the recommendations of the last review
  • implications of any change in criteria of candidacy
  • advances in techniques/technology
  • resource implications of any change in service provision.

The role of NSD in this review was to report to the Scottish Executive Health Department (SEHD) the findings and recommendations of the group. NSD would provide financial, nursing and medical expertise and would organise the review process but the final report would be the work of the whole group.

Discussion took place as to how services had changed since the last review, how the recommendations made then and had been put in place.

Professor Summerfield summarised the findings of the recent Medical Research Council (MRC) Institute of Hearing Research (IHR) report on the criteria of candidacy for cochlear implantation, which he would discuss in more detail at the next meeting.

Professor Summerfield also reported that the review would be seeking to make recommendations on whether bilateral cochlear implantation should be adopted in certain circumstances. It was decided that site visits would be made including both Scottish centres and at least two English centres. The representatives from NSD would be required to attend these visits. While other members of the review group were welcome to attend, it was stressed that it was not an obligation and would depend on dates and availability, both of group members and of the centres hosting the visits.

The next meeting of the group (in December), would be more formal with presentations being made by selected members of the group.

BATOD Magazine November 2006