This evening the Ministry of Health admitted it has let the adult cochlear implant waiting list get out of control. In this TVNZ item the adult waiting list is reported to be 214 adults.
Currently the government funds 40 cochlear implants a year. This has been static for almost 4 years at 40 cochlear implants a year. The current funding levels mean that even if no new referrals are received, it would take over 5 years to clear those on the waiting list.
This is unacceptable. There is increasing research that shows that hearing loss leads to dementia or serious neurological deterioration. Every day these adults languish on the waiting list is literally damaging them. To knowingly deny these New Zealanders proper treatment is in effect inflict harm on them.
The Ministry of Health needs to immediately fund 150 cochlear implants for adults to clear the waiting list. In addition the annual funding needs to be increased to 80 operations per annum.