Header image for the current page Procurement team helps improve access to pioneering brain surgery for deaf children

Arden & GEM’s procurement team has worked in partnership with NHS England Highly Specialised Commissioning to successfully appoint specialist centres to provide a cutting-edge surgery for children who are deaf, by inserting auditory brainstem implants into the brain.

The procurement objective was to establish a new service for the provision of auditory brainstem implants for children, replacing existing interim arrangements. The new service will deliver greater stability and financial sustainability as well as supporting improvements in clinical governance and outcomes, quality monitoring, data capture and reporting.

The pioneering brain surgery is for children who are profoundly deaf, aged five or under, who are unable to use conventional hearing aids or implants because their inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve did not develop properly. It is estimated that about 15 children per year will be assessed for auditory brainstem implantation and that about nine will go on to have the surgery. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London will offer the cutting-edge surgery which involves inserting a device directly into the brain to stimulate hearing pathways, bypassing the cochlea and auditory nerve that have not developed properly.

The procedure has already allowed four-year-old Theo Sankson and seven-year-old Leia Armitage to hear sounds and speak to their parents for the first time.

“This truly life-changing surgery, which allows youngsters to hear their parents’ voices for the first time, will now be available across England for children who are deaf who have no other options.”

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director