The Queensland Government will clear the public waiting list for Cochlear implant patients with the 10,000th person receiving the life-changing device in Brisbane today.
Christine Dougall, 45, of Runcorn, became the most recent Cochlear recipient after the Queensland Government committed an extra $7.8 million this financial year to clear the backlog of patients.
Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said he was proud to announce the patient backlog would be cleared by June 30 2014, with 113 people receiving Cochlear implants in the past 12 months.
“Our Government promised to revitalise frontline services and create the best free public health system in Australia and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Mr Springborg.
“We understand how important the gift of hearing is to people who have been deprived of it and we have made it a priority to clear the backlog of patients with the commitment of additional funds in our three budgets since we were elected.
“Historically the wait for a Cochlear implant in Queensland was up to four years but waiting lists are now a thing of the past.
“The Queensland Government is taking steps to ensure that the backlog does not re-occur through recurrent funding of $3.14 million annually and by improved wait list management procedures.”
Mr Springborg said the lives of children and adults, like Ms Dougall, had been transformed with the gift of hearing thanks to the Newman Government’s commitment to frontline care and reduction of waste in the health budget.
“We’ve also been able to improve access to surgery and enhance the provision of important pre and post-operative clinical management,” Mr Springborg said.
“Our increased use of telehealth is also helping with patients like nine-year old Cairns boy, Samuel Steuart, who last week became the first child to benefit from the roll-out of remote tele-mapping service provided by the audiology team at the Royal Children’s Hospital. “
Ms Dougall celebrated the milestone at the Mater Hospital with the switching-on of her Cochlear implant in front of her four adult children and six-month old grandchild
The Brisbane grandmother, who works at Indooroopilly High School as a sign interpreter helping children in the classroom to understand the class teacher, started to lose her hearing when she was five.
She has lived with profound hearing loss since she was 16 years old and is dependent on hearing aids and sign language to communicate with her friends and family – until now.
“To be the 10,000th recipient in Australia means it’s not just a hearing celebration for me, but for everyone involved at Cochlear. I’d also like to thank the staff at the Mater, Hospital who have helped me on my hearing journey,” Ms Dougall said.
“I’m looking forward to my Cochlear implant improving my ability to communicate, through listening and speech. I’d also like to be more confident when socialising with my hearing friends.”
Ms Dougall is one of approximately 2,000 Queenslanders who have received a Cochlear implant, allowing them to experience sound and/or speech, often for the first time.
The first patient received a Cochlear implant in 1978 and it has taken over 30 years to reach the 10,000 milestone. The first 5000 took 25 years while the next 5000 took just five years.