Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Concern over funding loss for the Hear to Help Project in Dundee

I have expressed concern at the loss of funding for the Hear to Help Project in Dundee.   Run by Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, it has provided help for people to maintain and use their hearing aids in recent years.   I visited a drop-in session at Blackness Library last year and was extremely impressed with what the project provides for local people.

I am very concerned indeed to learn that the funding for the above project is not being renewed.   I feel it is a great service as many elderly constituents in particular are able to get some support to maintain their hearing aids, cleaning tubing, etc and the project supplies batteries to them at each visit. 

It makes it so much easier for residents to have this drop-in clinic in local sheltered complexes and at Blackness Library locally and to access this support on a regular basis.    I fear that without these regular visits, many will find it much more difficult to maintain their hearing aids properly.    It would be greatly detrimental if this service ended.

The background to the project is that following a pilot in the Borders, in 2010 the Scottish Government provided continuation funding and money to run similar projects in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Tayside and Ayrshire & Arran NHS health board areas.   The four Hear to Help projects have made well over 8000 interventions to support hearing aid wearers and have drop-in sessions running in 52 community venues across Scotland.

Funding for the projects in Glasgow, Tayside, Ayrshire and Arran and the Borders, however, is due to run out at the end of March 2015 and continuation funding is being urgently sought to ensure these life-changing Hear to Help services can continue.   If funding is not found, the loss of the Hear to Help projects will have an immediate impact on the communication, health and well-being experienced by thousands of people with hearing loss.

I recently wrote to Lesley McLay, Chief Executive of NHS Tayside, emphasising the great value of the project and calling for funding to be found to allow it to continue.    

In response, Ms McLay advised, “I am conscious of your concerns about the quality of life aspect for users of this service, therefore I have asked (the) General Manager for this area and the Head of Audiology Services … to work with Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to jointly explore potential options for the continuation of the scheme.”

I know of some constituents who have just recently started using hearing aids who benefit greatly from some individual advice and support. 

I would be extremely sorry to see this service come to an end due to funding not being continued and am very keen that Scottish Government and NHS Tayside find a route forward to allow Action on Hearing Loss Scotland to continue to run the service.