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Written Answers. - Medical Aids.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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 136. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if he will allow individuals suffering from Parkinson's disease to obtain hearing aids which do not require adjusting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3770/02]

[1614]Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The provision of community audiology services is a matter in the first instance for the Eastern Regional Health Authority, ERHA, and the health boards. Following the dissolution of the National Rehabilitation Board in June 2000, the responsibility for the provision of community audiology services throughout the regions was assigned initially to the Northern Area Health Board of the ERHA pending each health board taking over direct responsibility for the services within its own region.

The chief executive officer of the ERHA has informed me that staff may recommend body-worn hearing aids for sufferers of Parkinson's disease who have difficulty with manipulating the controls of modern miniaturised hearing aids. These body-worn hearing aids are easier to control.

 137. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if he has investigated the cost discrepancies for hearing aids which cost 50% less in countries such as Norway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3771/02]

 138. Mr. Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  the regulations covering private practitioners advertising hearing aids on local and national media; his plans to reform these regulations to protect the consumer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3772/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 and 138 together.

Under the Health Acts, hearing aids are supplied to pre-school and national school children in respect of defects discovered at child health or school health examinations and to adult medical card holders or their dependants who require them. These hearing aids are provided without charge to patients. The cost of hearing aids obtained under private arrangements is a matter between the patient and the supplier of the appliance.

In 1998, Directive 93/42/EEC concerning general medical devices came into effect throughout the European Union. This directive and related Irish legislation – S.I. No. 252 of 1994, the European Communities (Medical Devices) Regulations, 1994 – was put in place to ensure that medical device equipment, including hearing aids and their accessories, is of the highest quality. Issues relating to advertisements of hearing aids on local and national media may be referred to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland.


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