Children’s cochlear care concerns must be investigated as permanent damage revealed

Sunday 19 March 2023
Children’s cochlear care concerns must be investigated as permanent damage revealed

The Opposition is calling on Peter Malinauskas to launch an independent review into the care of nine children, following disturbing claims many of them have suffered irreversible damage after programming of their cochlear implants occurred at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

The issue was raised with the Women’s and Children’s Health Network in April 2022, after the children transferred to private audiology practice Little Allied Health from the WCH Audiology Unit due to concerns over their hearing, listening and communication development.

All were found to have similar cochlear implant programming problems, sparking fears this could be a systemic issue.

The impacts for many will likely be lifelong as these children had little to no access to sound for years – missing the opportunity to learn vital listening and speaking skills during critical development years.

Leader of the Opposition David Speirs said there must be an urgent and independent review into how the inadequacy of the programming for the implant speech processors occurred and whether any other children received inadequate cochlear care at the WCH.

“It’s heartbreaking learning these young children have likely suffered irreversible harm to their communication skills due to suboptimal care at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital,” Mr Speirs said.

“It’s crucial children who are born deaf or hard of hearing have early and appropriate intervention, as untreated hearing loss can have profound effects on a child’s ability to develop speech, language and social skills – stopping them from reaching their full potential.

“The Malinauskas Labor Government must commission an urgent independent review into what’s gone wrong at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s Audiology Unit to prevent other children suffering these irreparable, lifelong impacts.”

Shadow Minister for Health Ashton Hurn labelled these claims as heartbreaking and urged the Malinauskas Government to act without hesitation to launch an independent review.

“The Government must learn from this shocking situation to ensure that no other family is forced to endure the same distress and heartbreak – and the way to get to the bottom of it is an independent review,” Mrs Hurn said.

“We all have a responsibility to care for our most vulnerable, as leaders we need to do absolutely everything within our power to give young people the best start in life.

“Our calls today are not just to raise awareness about this issue, but to ensure that no other South Australian family falls through the cracks.”