Around 85 delegates at the annual general meeting professional develoopment day heard how NHS adult hearing services may be provided by Any Qualified Provider across swathes of England next year ...starting as early as January. They also heard about plans to change BSHAA Fellowship rules and took part in an innovation forum.
The meeting took place at the Manchester Airport Hilton Hotel, on Saturday November 12th and was regarded by some of the delegates as the best AGM ever, despite lower than average attendances. The formal part of the AGM included a Mid Term Report by the President, Peter Ince, who explained the great amount of work that was being done by the Council and the Society's professional support.
In 1999 he led the introduction of the first formal CPD system after a voluntary pilot scheme and was involved in the setting up of the on-line CPD management tool launched recently along with the new website. He organised the Society’s own Membership and Fellowship examinations and was part of the team involved in the introduction of the Foundation Degree route of entry with the now defunct Hearing Aid Council.
Peter Ince presented Dr Nolan with an equine picture in pastel by the well-known Irish horse-racing artist Con Campbell.
Another well known national figure, Peter Ormerod also stood down after serving on the Council for three years. Ian Croft, was re-elected and the Society elected three new Council members: Stuart Cox, a regional manager at David Ormerod Hearing Centres. Paul Scigala, who owns his own dispensing business in Lincolnshire and Steve Edmunds, a retail consultant with a national hearing aid manufacturer.
Alan Torbet then took the floor to update members on AQP. He told delegates that it now looked likely that almost all of the Primary Care Trust commissioning Clusters around England had opted to include adult hearing care in their choice of services that could be provided under the "Any Qualified Provider" scheme. He said the service specification for Any Qualified Provider was likely to be published within days and the process through which Companies could qualify was due to be published by the end of November. It was likely that procurement would start in January. But he warned the Society’s members that there were big risks still to clarify: it wasn’t clear what the NHS was willing to pay for hearing care, or the quality standards required; there could be local service and contracting variations; and local conditions for any qualified provider. "Given that at present, Action on Hearing Loss (RNID) believe that 45% of people presenting to their GP with hearing loss are sent away without being referred, there are uncertainties about how the GPs would cope with patient choice'" he added.
Alan Torbet BSHAA Chief Executive
An overview of the results of new research by the Deafness Research Group at Manchester University, was presented by Dr Piers Dawes. His headlines were that it appeared the research showed that two hearing aids were better than one for people with bilateral hearing loss and that the plasticity of the brain (its ability to re-learn lost functionality) meant that over time, people with hearing loss gained more benefit from hearing aids than the amplification provided by the instruments themselves.
Dr Piers Dawes, D.Phil Audiology and Deafness Research Group School of Psychological Sciences University of Manchester, UK
Barry Downes spoke on two topics - first of all outlining proposals for changes to the way Fellowship is awarded and maintained. He explained that the two major changes were that those who had gained their Fellowship by examination would in future be required to "maintain" their Fellowship by earning 50 BSHAA CPD points over each two year period and that it was proposed that those who had completed a Foundation or other higher audiology degree would automatically become Fellows. They would also have to earn 50 BSHAA CPD points over each two year period to retain the fellowship. He stressed that his proposals were part of a consultation and that he was seeking views of the membership.
Barry Downes BSHAA member