07 March 2019

890 more children and adults eligible for cochlear implants on the NHS each year

Hundreds more people with severe to profound deafness will be eligible for cochlear implants each year, due to updated NICE guidance

The update comes after a review of the definition of severe to profound deafness which is used to identify if a cochlear implant might be appropriate.

Meindert Boysen, Director of the Centre for Technology Evaluation, said: “The appraisal committee listened to stakeholder concerns regarding the eligibility criteria for cochlear implants being out of date. Upon review it was concluded this needed to be updated.”

“The new eligibility criteria for cochlear implants will ensure that they continue to be available on the NHS to those individuals who will benefit from them the most.”

Severe to profound deafness is now recognised as only hearing sounds louder than 80dB HL at 2 or more frequencies without hearing aids.

A cochlear implant works by picking up sounds which are turned into electrical signals and are sent to the brain. This provides a sensation of hearing but does not restore hearing.

Currently around 1,260 people in England receive cochlear implants each year. These updated recommendations could lead to a 70% increase in that number, to 2,150 people, once a steady state is reached in 2024/25.

The annual cost of implementing this guidance is predicted to be around £28.6m at year 3. When the cost of a technology exceeds £20 million in any of the first three years it is said to meet the budget impact test. When that happens NHS England may work with the companies to reduce the impact that funding the technology has on the rest of the NHS.

However, in this case NHS England has decided not to engage in discussions with the companies. As such, commissioners have 3 months from today to implement these recommendations.

With the right support, deaf children can achieve anything in life. NICE is going a long way towards making that promise a reality for all those children who can benefit from this technology.

Vicki Kirwin, children’s audiologist at the National Deaf Children’s Society

The new eligibility criteria for cochlear implants will ensure that they continue to be available on the NHS to those individuals who will benefit from them the most.

Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Technology Evaluation

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