Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not so NICE

In December and January I drew attention to the publication of the draft recommendations on cochlear implantation from NICE, the body responsible for publishing the guidelines that steer healthcare spending in the UK. The first appraisal consultation document looked promising; bilateral implantation was being recommended for all pre-lingually deafened children as well as the deaf-blind and post-meningitic children. It was all coming too late for Tom, of course, but the future was looking a little brighter for many families.

Looks like we got ahead of ourselves there...

NICE have just published their second appraisal consultation document in which they back-track on this recommendation, explicitly dropping pre-lingually deafened children from the list of those deemed suitable for bilaterals and stating:

Bilateral cochlear implantation is not recommended for children and adults
(...) except in the context of research designed to generate
robust evidence about the benefits to functional hearing and health-related
quality of life of simultaneous or sequential bilateral compared with unilateral
cochlear implantation in those with severe to profound deafness who do not
receive adequate benefit from acoustic hearing aids.

And we were hoping, and campaigning, for a widening of the criteria to include post-lingually deafened children, who would equally benefit from improved hearing in the classroom, and adults. This is the UK's opportunity to catch up with the US and many other countries, display a little bit of common sense and act. What has caused this U-turn?

If you are in any way involved, or interested, please consider responding to NICE through their website. They need telling.

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