April 16 at 07:00
Waiting time targets for operating on people with hearing loss have been cut in half to 26 weeks. Currently, the aim from referral to treatment is to administer cochlear implant surgery within 52 weeks. The medical device can replace the function of the inner ear and allow profoundly deaf people to hear again.
There are 13,480 people registered in Wales as having a hearing impairment and in 2015-16, 65 people had cochlear implant surgery. The new 26 week target, announced by the Welsh Government on Friday, includes a 36-week aim for the most complex cases. Over the next three years, the Welsh health specialist services committee will work with health boards to achieve this. Specialist cochlear implant service providers are based at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Denbighshire. Health secretary Vaughan Gething said quicker surgery for those who are deaf or hard of hearing will allow them to "lead more-normal lives again". "For many people, deafness can have a significant impact on their quality of life, affecting employment, recreation and relationships," he added.
The numbers of people suffering from hearing loss are captured on local authority registers of people with disabilities. As of March 2016, 13,480 had registered with a hearing impairment - with 83% stating they were hard of hearing. For 2016-17, the forecast is for 55 people to be given cochlear surgery, a mixture of new and replacement implants.