Calls for more funding for cochlear implants fall on deaf ears, reduced instead

The Government has cancelled funding for cochlear implants after a successful campaign last year pushed the previous Government to give a funding boost.

Further campaigns this year have fallen on deaf ears in the new Government.

Minister of Health David Clark has refused to comment.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provide sound signals to the brain when inner ear nerves that usually do this are damaged.

July last year: Kiwi woman urgently needing cochlear implant not even on waiting list and feeling ignored

In March, 1 NEWS told how the 22-year-old would be completely deaf, if she didn’t have a cochlear implant.

Now, with just weeks before her hearing deteriorates completely, she’s learned that she isn’t even on a waiting list for the surgery.

She says she is “depressed, angry and upset” by the news.

Now almost 25,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to step in.

A petition signed by 26,000 people was presented to Parliament in August. Later that month (during the election campaign): Cochlear funding boost music to ears of deaf Kiwi adults

Another 60 adults will once again be able to hear thanks to a boost in funding for cochlear implants.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman this morning announced an extra $6.5 million would be spent on providing cochlear implants for adults.

There are currently 224 adults on the waiting list for a funded cochlear implant.

Up until now there has been funding for only 40 a year but in 2017/18 there will be money available for 100 people to have the life-changing procedure.

The money, taken from another part of the health system, would take the Cochlear Implant Programme’s total funding to $14.93m, Coleman said.

“The investment will also increase the capacity within the system and cover the additional audiology and rehabilitation time required to support such a massive uplift.”

Levin surf lifesaver Danielle Mackay, 22, has been waiting for a publicly-funded implant for more than three years and will now finally get one.

In January this year – Deaf device: ‘A lot of people don’t want to wait’

Profoundly deaf people are bypassing a waiting list and paying to get their first Cochlear implant because they can’t bear to wait several years before they get their hearing back.

More funding for the cochlear implants – which can change the life of a deaf person – is needed, say advocates.

Dr Baber said about a third of the people who came in wanting an implant were turned away after being assessed.

Mr Baber supported the call for more public funding for Cochlear implants.

“They are considered the third most cost-effective high-tech medical intervention there is.”

Yesterday Stuff reported Government’s ‘shocking’ $6.5 million funding cut to cochlear implants

The Government has quietly cancelled extra funding for cochlear implants, despite a successful campaign for publicly-funded devices for every Kiwi who needed one.

Levin surf lifesaver Danielle McKay spearheaded the campaign after she waited three years for the surgery. She said the decision to slash the $6.5million funding boost was “shocking” and “disappointing.”

Health Minister David Clark refused to comment on the cut. But a spokesman confirmed that extra funding was not extended in this year’s Budget.

National Party spokesman for health Michael Woodhouse:

“It’s a callous and disgraceful decision which is going to see people lose their hearing when they don’t need to,” Woodhouse said. “We boosted the number of funded cochlear implants for adults and sped up access to implants for children.”

“This Government doesn’t see saving the hearing of hundreds of New Zealanders as a priority and those hundreds of New Zealanders and their families will be bitterly disappointed.

“Let’s not forget this Government has claimed for years there was a health crisis and now they’re in Government they’re cutting funding.

“It’s a disgrace.”

There are many demands on the health system and on Government funding, and it isn’t possible to fund everything, but cutting back on funding is difficult to defend – so Clark has chosen to not try to defend it.

Discussion on this at Reddit. Is not continuing a funding boost a funding cut?