‘Victory’ – Rotherham mum celebrates change in guidance on cochlear implants following campaign

Hundreds more children and adults with severe to profound hearing loss will be given the option of having cochlear implants following a campaign by a Rotherham mum.

It comes as the NHS watchdog NICE revised its definition of severe deafness – extending the number of people who could benefit.

Diane Matthews (right) pictured with her daughter Florence after completing the Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice Colour Dash

Diane Matthews (right) pictured with her daughter Florence after completing the Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice Colour Dash

The guidance, previously referred to as ‘the strictest in the developed world’, was changed following a petition by mum-of-one Diane Matthews.

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The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence estimates that 2,150 people in England will be eligible for cochlear implants each year by 2025, an increase from the 1,260 people who currently receive them.

Ms Matthews said: “More people will now have an opportunity to have a cochlear Implant. How many is really an unknown, there are assumptions being made but this is a victory.

Diane Matthews pictured with her dad Dave Berry at the Houses of Parliament in March 2017.

Diane Matthews pictured with her dad Dave Berry at the Houses of Parliament in March 2017.

“It’s taken over two years but we got there in the end.”

The guidance applies to England and Wales.

Cochlear implants are an option for children and adults with permanent hearing loss that is not helped by hearing aids.

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Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants work by turning sound into electrical signals and sending them to part of the inner ear called the cochlea.

From here, the signals travel to the brain and are experienced as sound.

They provide the sensation of hearing but do not restore hearing.

The total cost of a cochlear implant for one ear, including the surgery, is £22,919 and for two ears, it is £37,904.

Ms Matthews added: “Before your hearing had to be at 90db for the set frequencies, this has been lowered to 80db. It’s not a simple scale and means much more than most people will initially think.

“The other thing that’s changed is that it’s no longer the BKB (Bamford-Kowal-Bench) test, it’s now AB (Arthur Boothroyd) words.

“Most deaf people use context to fill in the gaps which is what happened on the BKB test. As these sentences are very simple it wasn’t reflective of real life situations and conversations – it was more like listening to someone reading sentences from a child’s book.”

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Professor Brian Lamb who works closely with The Ear Foundation, said: “This is great news for adults and children who have not been able to access this life changing technology.

“It also makes sense for the NHS to invest in better hearing care this dramatically improves lives and saves the NHS money. It is also a testament to the way patients groups and professional organisations have worked together to bring about this change."