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West of England Hearing Implant Programme

The West of England Hearing Implant Programme (WEHIP) provides cochlear implants for adults and children throughout the south west.

Contacts details

Address:St Michaels Hospital
Southwell Street
Kingsdown
BS2 8EG
Telephone number: 0117 3421607

Cochlear implants are electronic devices that can help profoundly and severely deaf people to hear. There are different sorts of cochlear implant, but they all have internal parts, implanted surgically, and external parts, worn on the ear. Although they do not restore normal hearing they can provide an awareness and understanding of sound.

The multi-disciplinary WEHIP team includes ENT Consultant Surgeons, Audiological Scientists, Teachers of the Deaf, Speech and Language Therapists, Clinical Psychologists and a Paediatrician. Careful assessments are carried out to check whether a child referred to the team might benefit from an implant and information is shared to help families decide whether they want to go ahead.

If the decision is taken to proceed, there's an operation to implant a receiver and electrode array, followed a month later by fitting the external parts, the sound processor and transmitter. The external parts look rather like an ordinary hearing aid. After that there is careful follow-up, where families, local professionals and the WEHIP team work closely together to help the child make best use of the implant and if possible learn to listen and talk. Teachers and therapists on the team carry out home and school visits, and families attend audiology clinics in Bristol, Taunton and Exeter.

Early referral, assessment and implantation make a significant difference to how well children do with their implants. Research worldwide shows that a delay in implantation and a long period of deafness result in a poorer overall outcome. The WEHIP team aims to offer implants to babies around their 1st birthday, or as soon as possible after loss of hearing.

Age range
  • Early years - 0 to 5 years
  • Preparing for Adulthood
  • Primary - 5 to 11 years
  • Secondary - 11 to 18 years
  • Needs level
  • High
  • Provision type
  • Specialist

  • Based: Nationally based
    • 0 to 1 years old
    • 5 to 11 years old
    • 12 to 16 years old
    • 1 to 2 years old
    • 2 to 3 years old
    • 3 to 4 years old
    • 4 to 5 years old
    • Hearing impairments

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