Vaughan Gething, Minister of Health and Social Services
A national pathway for school entry hearing screening has been developed for roll out across Wales. The new service model provides a clear pathway to ensure a hearing screening test is offered to all children in the school year they reach age five.
Deafness or loss of hearing at any age can negatively affect levels of communication and can leave people feeling isolated and detached from the world around them. It is vital to detect hearing loss among young children as soon as possible to provide the right care and support and to ensure they can effectively communicate to reach their full educational, employment and social potential.
In 2017, I launched the Framework of Action for Wales, ‘Integrated framework of care and support for people who are D/deaf or living with hearing loss’. The Framework aims to follow the life course from new-born screening and children through to adults and older people. The School Entry Hearing Screening Pathway was developed by a Framework of Action task and finish group, utilising the expertise and skills from education, third sector, nursing, audiology and local government to evaluate a broad range of evidence and information to develop the pathway to:
- Enable health boards to deliver prudent and effective services compliant with the UK National Screening Committee recommendation for school entry hearing screening in children.
- Optimise the school entry hearing screening process using established standards, personnel, training, equipment, facilities and data collection aligned with the national Audiology Quality Standards.
- Assist in national audit of how hearing impaired children are identified following the new-born hearing screen, and school screen, to inform the development of hearing care pathways.
- Integrate the screening and diagnostic process with the identification and management of Additional Learning Needs.
I am encouraged that here in Wales the service will be available in all seven health boards whereas in other areas of the UK provision of hearing screening at school entry age has ceased.
The pathway will be evaluated by audiology Heads of Service after one full year in of operation and if required adjusted in response to the findings.
I would like to thank all those who have been part of the successful development of this pathway. Their contribution to meeting the demanding outcomes set out in “A Healthier Wales”, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Framework of Action have been instrumental, and this pathway will make a significant difference to children in wales.