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25 February 2016

Bristol team reach milestone on International Cochlear Implant Day

To mark International Cochlear Implant Day the West of England Hearing Implant Programme, based at St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, will reach a milestone, treating its 1000th patient.

The West of England Hearing Implant Programme (WEHIP) is a multi-disciplinary service for paediatric and adult patients with severe hearing loss and part of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust. The service is provided by a team of 30 staff members, who see patients of all ages from across the South West region, treating on average 100 patients a year with cochlear implants. In addition, they provide many other forms of hearing implants such as the latest middle ear implants.

The adult and paediatric services came together under one roof when the adult services moved from North Bristol Trust in 2013. In January this year, the adult team moved into a newly renovated, purpose built clinic offering a welcoming and easily accessible environment for patients, adjacent to the Paediatric team and thus facilitating efficient joint care for all ages.

Mr Philip Robinson, consultant otolaryngologist, surgeon and director of the West of England Hearing Implant Programme, said: "This is an exciting time for the whole team, celebrating International Cochlear Implant Day on the same day that we are implanting our 1000th cochlear implant patient.

"The multidisciplinary team here at St Michael's do an outstanding job to ensure the programme sees and treats as many patients in the South West as possible."

"International Cochlear Implant Day celebrates the benefits and often life changing outcomes for patients with hearing problems, including those with profound deafness, fitted with implants.

"Children born profoundly deaf would have been unable to learn to speak in the days before cochlear implants, but now the vast majority fitted with a cochlear implant will develop speech and go to a mainstream school. 

"Adults who have lost their hearing completely will in most cases regain enough hearing to join in conversations and return to work. However, despite these successes there are numerous people in the South West with untreated deafness that are struggling in their everyday lives. In the elderly, deafness can make people very lonely and worsen dementia. We hope that by raising awareness of the options for treating severe hearing loss, and the cochlear implant service in particular, that we will encourage others to come forward if they think they require our help. "