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Child from Truro with one ear "victim of postcode lottery"

By West Briton  |  Posted: May 23, 2013

  • Ellie, who was born with the condition hemifacial microsomia, with mum Kelly Sanders, at home in Truro. Ref:TRJJ20130521B-003_C

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A CHILD from Truro with only one ear is a victim of a healthcare "postcode lottery" and has been denied a hearing aid, her mother says.

Kelly Sanders, mother of four-year-old Ellie, desperately wants a specialist hearing aid for her daughter before she starts school in September.

However, Mrs Sanders said the upheaval in the NHS had denied her the vital equipment available to children with similar conditions elsewhere.

"Ellie was born with a condition called hemifacial microsomia, which affects the right side of her face and more importantly means she has only one ear," she said.

Ellie wears a hearing aid but has had problems with infections and glue ear. A medical device called a bone anchored hearing aid (Baha), worn on a band, would allow her to hear on the side where she does not have an ear to give her more balanced hearing.

Mrs Sanders said: "She struggles now in a nursery setting. We have become more concerned with her affected side and how she will cope with starting school in September."

The family tried unsuccessfully to get a Baha from the former Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust, now replaced by NHS Kernow.

The family put in a request to the new body but has now been told it will have to be dealt with by NHS England.

"I don't know if they've moved the goalposts," Mrs Sanders said. "They seem to be passing the buck."

Families in the same situation elsewhere in the UK had been offered a Baha, she said: "They don't have to go crawling around to other trusts.

"I don't know how long this process is going to take. It's just so unclear where we stand, whereas other people seem to have great support."

Mrs Sanders said the care received from consultant David Whinney and the ear, nose and throat department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro had been excellent.

Mrs Sanders said a Baha costs approximately £3,000.

A spokesman for NHS Kernow said: "This particular type of equipment is funded by NHS England.

"We have written to the consultant caring for Ellie to advise him of this."

A spokesman for NHS England said she could not comment on individual cases but the new system should mean people all over the country qualified for treatment based on need, not location.

"From April 1, 2013 there was a new national commissioning policy in place providing guidance on bone anchored hearing aids for hearing loss," she said. "This now ensures patients have the same access to treatment irrespective of where they live in the country."

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