Friday, June 29, 2007

World of Sound

A new UK site championing cochlear implants has appeared.

World of Sound has started life with a featured campaign, that of the 'postcode lottery' that currently exists with regard to funding. The opening lines say you can:

Read about the funding issues surrounding cochlear implants and the different viewpoints of a parent, PCT and professional.

You might recognise the parent who shared his views. It was written sometime last autumn I think - funny how little has moved forward for us on the Healthcare Commission and funding front since then (when I say funny I mean not remotely humorous and actually an ongoing source of frustration).

The site presents an even-handed approach giving the PCTs and implant programmes the opportunity to explain their positions re: funding which they both manage do without any mention of bilaterals or the vast difference between the process (and likelihood of funding) for adults and that for children. Seeing as these are the requests that are most inconsistently dealt with across the country, for me it seems a gaping omission. Will someone new to the world of implants grasp that from what is presented here?

Because of this it made me wonder who the target audience is. If you are in the process of being assessed for implantation then you are immersed in much more detailed information than you will find here. You will only come into contact with your PCT if you are unlucky enough to have your implant programme's request turned down and then, well your business case might well be incredibly professional (as the representative from a PCT recommends) but if your PCT hasn't got the cash...

In fact, the more I ponder the PCT's position as written here the more I despair and I'm trying not to do that as much these days.

So if it isn't for prospective implantees who is the site for? It gave me another place to tell Tom's story which can't be a bad thing but in terms of moving the debate on around postcode lotteries, I'm not sure it succeeds. For those who aren't up to their necks in all things cochlear there needs to be a little more 'back story' to put the viewpoints given in to some perspective and I would like to see an editorial point of view?

Coming down on one side or the other is not as straightforward as it might seem though (he says, answering his own question). While Cochlear (who sponsor the site) appear to have a position on bilateral implantation (they regard it as the 'standard of care') they remain careful not to upset the people who, usually, have to buy their kit or those who have some influence over which device a recipient chooses.

Overall, any attempt to bring the debate to more people is a good thing and, given the complexity and subjectivity of the topic in hand (and the fact that I got to rant with Tom being a user of the Other Brand), I'm prepared to cut the World of Sound a little slack with their position astride the fence. I wait to see how it develops.

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