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An update to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines means 890 more children and adults each year will be eligible to have a cochlear implant fitted.
The move comes after the definition of severe to profound deafness was reviewed, opening up the treatment to a greater number of people on the NHS.
Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Technology Evaluation, said: “The appraisal committee listened to stakeholder concerns regarding the eligibility criteria for cochlear implants being out of date. Upon review it was concluded this needed to be updated.
“The new eligibility criteria for cochlear implants will ensure that they continue to be available on the NHS to those individuals who will benefit from them the most.”
From now onwards, the new definition for severe to profound deafness will be only hearing sounds louder than 80dB HL at two or more frequencies without hearing aids.
Cochlear implants do not restore hearing, instead picking up sounds from the environment and turning them into electrical signals that are then sent to the brain.
While the average number of people being fitted with the devices on the NHS in England each year has been 1,260, a 70 per cent increase is predicted under the new guidelines.
That means that by the time a steady rate is achieved around 2024, some 2,150 patients will be given cochlear implants annually.
It is predicted that by the third year of implementation the change will cost the NHS around £28.6 million a year, but the budget impact test may mean companies help to mitigate the impact it has on the rest of the health service.
Written by James Puckle
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