I have a confession to make. Having blogged about it last week, I’ve known what NICE will say in their report on cochlear implants for a full six days. But they made me promise not to say anything about it until the report was officially published or they would never speak to us ever again. I’m sure there was also a veiled threat that they would come over and scratch my Kylie Minogue CDs if I didn’t keep shtum.
But NICE has today has gone public with it’s findings so we can talk about it to anyone we like. And to our surprise, they are much more positive about cochlear implants for deaf children than we expected.
They say that the NHS should give cochlear implants as an option for all profoundly deaf children in one ear or, most unexpectedly, in both ears if this is what the families of a deaf child have chosen. And for children out there who already have one implant, they will get the option to have a second if their doctors agree. It’s a good thing we got an advance copy as for the first few days we were too stunned to say anything.
I still think that families and deaf children need to very carefully consider the issues and have all the information they need to make an informed choice. I also believe that families should take the opportunity to meet other deaf children and young people – those who’ve had an implant and those who chosen not to – to really get on top of the issues. The NICE ruling means that where an informed choice has been in favour of cochlear implants, a deaf child should be able to get one as soon as possible after assessment without having to wait for ages. It is hopefully the end of the postcode lottery that many families experience.
So what next?
1) The report is not yet final as it is subject to appeal – so we’ll be waiting for confirmation this is the final guidance at the end of this month.
2) We expect that some primary care trusts might drag their feet a bit, citing budget concerns. We’ll be watching out for this. NICE’s findings come into effect in the NHS three months from now.
3) We’ll be looking to manufactures of cochlear implants to keep the costs of cochlear implants down.
4) NICE only applies to England and Wales – so we’ll be looking to Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow suit quickly.
Overall though, it’s a good result for NDCS and all the other charities that have worked together on this.
PS You can read more about the whole issue on NDCS campaigns webpage on cochlear implants.