GP Upset After NHS Denies Twin Ear Implants for Her Baby

by Savitha C Muppala on Aug 9 2008 8:45 AM

A GP has contested the NHS "postcode lottery" that has denied her 11 month old daughter ‘bilateral’ cochlear implants.

Ellie, the 11 month old daughter of Dr Christine Wheatley's cannot avail of the complete treatment from the NHS, because she is not both deaf and blind. Dr Christine expressed concern of how the decision might affect her growing years, especially her safety on the road and progress at school.

According to the communication received by Hampshire Primary Care Trust (PCT), a sum of £33,000 will be paid for one cochlear implant. They will not however pick up the additional £18,000 for the second cochlear implant.

Hampshire PCT explained that the decision was made after going through the funding guidelines as per the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice). Nice presently allows ‘bilateral’ cochlear implants for deaf people when they meet with certain conditions, when the patient is also suffering blindness.

Dr Wheatley said: "We find it very frustrating knowing others families in identical situations have had their bilateral operations.”Ellie has undergone nine months of assessments and the clinicians at the Cochlear Implant Centre in Southampton support bilateral implants for her. I believe the PCT only considered the extra cost of a second implant, not how much less her education will cost if she has both ears operated on now.”

A spokesman for Hampshire PCT said: "The current recommendations from NICE support unilateral implants for children and adults with severe to profound deafness; however, under these guidelines, bilateral cochlear implantation is restricted to certain conditions, including children and adults who are blind. We will study the updated NICE guidance when it comes out next month and will review our current position as new evidence becomes available."