New chair to lead NHS review after child hearing failures

The appointment comes as families seek compensation over late diagnosis of deaf children.

Professor Jacqueline Taylor to lead NHS review after child hearing failures iStock

One of Scotland’s top consultants has been appointed to chair a review into NHS hearing following a series of failures.

Professor Jacqueline Taylor, a former NHS clinical director, will oversee the review of hearing services provided to both children and adults.

It comes after an inquiry found serious failings at a health board led to several profoundly deaf children being diagnosed too late for vital implant surgery.

The British Academy of Audiology report, published in December 2021, outlined a series of errors in the treatment provided to children by Paediatric Audiology in NHS Lothian.

An audit of the health board’s services found significant failures in 155 of the 1113 patients treated between 2009 and 2018, which led to children being identified as deaf years later than they should have.

It said failings in the standard of hearing tests had “adversely impacted the early years spoken language acquisition of numerous children, affecting a number of these children for life.”

NHS Lothian apologised following the publication of the report.

The National Audiology Review Group will provide recommendations for a national plan for the service.

Professor Taylor said: “I look forward to working with this group over the coming months.

“We expect to engage with the widest range of professionals and stakeholders in this area, identifying any gaps in provision but also learning from good practice.

“NHS Scotland provides some of the best healthcare treatment in the world, but where issues emerge it is important to understand what went wrong and how this can be rectified.”

Health secretary, Humza Yousaf said: “I would like to thank  Professor Taylor for agreeing to take on this important role which will help shape the future of audiology services in Scotland moving forward.

“Professor Taylor is one of the most respected medical figures in Scotland and I know that she will provide the necessary leadership and oversight for this vital work.

“I am determined that our hearing services are fit for purpose in Scotland following the unacceptable failures in NHS Lothian which came to light last year and this group will help identify any wider issues and areas for improvement.”

The remit of the review, its full membership and timetable for reporting is still to be announced.

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