Counties Manukau Audiology Team makes huge strides helping tamariki

The audiology clinic at Manukau Health Park is excited about major improvements in the efficiency of their work in the outpatient department.

 The specialised field known as Otolaryngology  (previously ENT), is a vital part of Counties’ work in the community.

 Conditions such as otitis media (‘glue ear’) – a major impediment to the hearing and learning of tamariki in the Counties area – are a longstanding issue, with waiting lists in the past having been what the audiologists describe as unacceptably long.

 Expanding the skillset of audiologists to enable them to start treating otitis media and working more efficiently to streamline patient pathways has contributed to waiting times coming down very significantly.

Average wait time overall from initial referral for otitis media has reduced from a high of 202 days to 46 days. In March 2023, 40% of tamariki were waiting over 120 days for a routine ear appointment. This has improved to 6%.

In addition, more streamlined practices have meant children with hearing issues are needing fewer appointments, a quicker pathway for glue ear patients to get grommets inserted, and more comprehensive follow-up after grommet surgery.

Audiology clinical leader Renee Hislop says: “What’s happened is our audiologists have upskilled to provide comprehensive assessment and management of children with otitis media, freeing up our surgeons for more complex cases.”

 Training was largely done in-house by the lead Senior Medical Officer, and two of the audiologists received funding to do formal training in ear micro-suction in Australia.

“It’s good news all round: only a very small proportion of FSA [First Specialist Appointments] need further visits to manage complex ear disease, medical diagnosis of permanent hearing loss, or for non-ear related surgeries.

“GPs can have confidence that in referring tamaraki to our service, there are much improved outcomes currently in terms of timely treatment and results.”









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