The office of the CSO (England) is leading a Quality Improvement Programme for Hearing Services, with an initial focus on paediatric audiology.

In early summer, the NHS England Diagnostic Transformation Programme will perform a detailed stocktake of all hearing services (including adult, paediatric, and implantation). Ahead of this, there is a need to quickly gather key information focused around paediatric hearing services that are currently provided across England, which will inform the wider stocktake and inform the improvement programme of the current status quo for paediatric pathways in service delivery and commissioning models.

Given the urgency and need for this information, it is extremely important that the survey is completed and returned to by CoP 28th April. (See link at bottom of email).

The following may help provide further context.

Background and Context

Following the report recommendations in the Paediatric Audiology Service Review, NHS Lothian, the Newborn Screening Programme (NHSP) completed an analysis of data that demonstrated geographical variation in the diagnostic yield for permanent childhood hearing impairment (PCHI), in babies who were appropriately referred to audiological services by the NHSP.

In October 22, the National Paediatric Audiology Oversight Group was established as a time limited task and finish group to oversee external peer reviews focused on referrals from the NHSP, initially of the Trusts identified as having a lower-than-expected yield for permanent childhood hearing impairment. The group’s role includes:

Identifying any babies appropriately referred into audiological diagnostic assessment services by NHSP that may require a recall for further diagnostic testing to ensure that they are on the correct treatment pathway.

Provide assurance that where babies referred by the newborn screen have been discharged from diagnostic services this was clinically appropriate, by reviewing diagnostic Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and Auditory Brainstem Responses (ABR) traces, to determine the quality of the assessments.

Sharing findings with the commissioners of audiology services to drive service quality improvement.

Emerging findings and soft intelligence from the system have indicated a number of significant systematic issues, similar to those raised within the NHS Lothian report, that require an urgent strategic response and that are outside of the scope of NHSP.  

To rapidly support findings from the reviews, a National Steering Group for Improvement in Hearing Services has been established to provide national strategic oversight and direction for quality improvements in paediatric audiology services. The group will be chaired by Prof Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England.

Working groups core work streams are being established and will be led by a work stream lead to drive and deliver quality improvement work packages identified by the steering group.

The core work streams to deliver the strategic ambition for the programme include:

  1. Quality
  2. Workforce Development
  3. Commissioning
  4. Service pathways/live Issues

Request for rapid review of Audiology Service provision

The steering and working groups need to urgently clarify the current Trust and ICB commissioning arrangements for paediatric hearing services that are currently provided across England. This will inform a wider stocktake led by physiological services transformation team that will detail all hearing services (adult, paediatric and implantation).

Completion of rapid survey

Heads of Audiology services are requested to complete the survey and return it to, by close of play 28th April. Thank you for supporting the Improvement in Hearing Services Programme with this essential scoping exercise at this busy time.

SurveyImproving Paediatric Hearing Services Survey FInal