Since from 2013/14 to 2020/21, the SNP Government has invested £40,655,988 in the NHS Ayrshire & Arran-run Scottish Cochlear Implant Programme based in Crosshouse Hospital, which provides users from across Scotland with cochlear implants.
As of 31 March 2021, the number of cochlear implant users supported by the programme was 1,556 (1,196 Adults and 360 Children). This includes 430 bilateral cochlear implant users (139 Adults and 291 Children) who use the implants to help them hear with both ears.
A cochlear implant system converts acoustic sound waves into electrical stimulation which is then delivered directly to the cochlea, bypassing damaged hair cells, stimulating nerve endings and giving the individual a hearing sensation.
Once a processor has been in use for 5 years, it is eligible for an upgrade. This is occasionally delayed in negotiation with the patient, if there has been no new model released by that company, until their new model was released, provided it was known the release was scheduled in the foreseeable future. This is in line with other major Cochlear Implant services.
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“It’s an uplifting thought that this investment has helped 1,556 people in Scotland to communicate in a way they wouldn’t have without their cochlear implants.
“Being able to experience spoken sound is particularly important to children as it helps them develop the ability to speak and listen, and can have a far-reaching impact on their confidence and the way they live their lives in the long term.
“Cochlear implants help users to live their lives to the fullest, contribute to society and prevent feeling isolated. This is a great investment and I’m glad the programme is working so well.”
After cochlear implant surgery, the patient's progress is assessed at regular intervals.
Adults are assessed at 1 week, 3 months and 9 months post-implant using the MRC, Institute of Hearing Research POCIA test battery (Predicting and monitoring Outcomes in Cochlear Implantation in Adult patients). For some patients, these assessments are carried out up to 5 years post-implant.
For children, outcomes from cochlear implantation lie in the domains of audition, speech, language and education. They are assessed at quarterly time intervals in the first year, six month time intervals in the second year and annually in the 3rd, 4th and 5th year. An extensive range of assessments are carried out.
More information on the Scottish Cochlear Implant Programme can be found here.