Scotland’s audiology services are failing children

October 4, 2023
Scotland’s Audiology Services are failing children

Systematic failings at NHS Lothian 

In December 2021, an Independent Review report revealed systemic failings within the Paediatric Audiology Service at NHS Lothian.  

The British Academy of Audiology (BAA) conducted the review, revealing that failures had led to babies and children being undiagnosed or significantly delayed in diagnosis and appropriate treatment of hearing loss and impairment.  

The findings were disturbing and wide ranging, identifying issues in the care of 88% of the cases investigated.     

The children and families affected have been failed, and in some instances, this will lead to lifelong consequences.  

Shockingly, these failings are not unique to NHS Lothian, rather, the failures identified there are indicative of systemic failings across Scotland.  

Widespread failings  

Following the identified failings at NHS Lothian, an independent review into national audiology services was commissioned by First Minister Humza Yousaf when he was health secretary.  

The review was established to examine hearing services provided to children and adults in Health Boards across Scotland and make recommendations on how these could be improved.1

On 25 August 2023, the BBC reported that ‘multiple, systematic problems have been found in Scotland’s audiology services.2

Now published, the review identified ‘a range of concerns in all the areas that were scrutinised’3 making more than 50 recommendations to improve services.  

The National Deaf Children’s Society said the review painted a ‘deeply concerning picture” of the state of audiology in Scotland.’4 

Mark Ballard, from the society, said it was ‘alarming’ that issues were identified in the quality of auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing at ‘every single health board in Scotland.’ 

The review notes that the right to effective language and communication is enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration on Human Rights.5 Furthermore, the right of every child to ‘the highest attainable standard of health’ and to the development of ‘mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential’6 is recognised by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.7  

A broken system 

“Through our investigations into the failures by NHS Lothian, we know the devastating impacts that these failings have on children and their families. It is now clear that these failures are not isolated to NHS Lothian. The results of this recent review clearly suggest there is an audiology service crisis in Scotland. 

“Further, due to the inadequacies in their treatment by audiology services, Scotland’s children are being denied their human rights and failed by a broken system.”

– Megan Lafferty, Legal Director, Pogust Goodhead 

Seeking redress 

Those who have experienced negligent care deserve redress for the pain and suffering they have experienced, and to be able to access the care and services they now need.   

Pogust Goodhead has a team of solicitors who are experienced in litigating clinical negligence claims. If you are considering making a clinical negligence claim and would like some further information, please get in touch with our legal team via our website or alternatively call us for a free initial confidential chat. 

If your child was affected by the NHS Lothian Paediatric Audiology Service’s failure to properly diagnose hearing loss or impairment, please get in touch with us or access further information here.

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