Mrs Beal, who lives in a care home in Deal in Kent, has used an old-fashioned analogue hearing aid for the last five years.
She has now been assessed as needing a more modern digital hearing aid which cuts out background noise and makes it easier to hear conversation or music. These cost around 1,000 on the private market.
But Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust have told her family she must wait 18 months before she gets one on the NHS. By then Mrs Beal will be aged 110.
She said yesterday: 'I could be dead by then.'
Our system of course has its shortcomings, but it's important to remember that socializing it will give us a whole new set of problems. Health care is and always will be a limited resource. Making it "universal" does not magically make it unlimited. It must be rationed somehow. In Britain, it's rationed by making 108-year-olds wait two years for services. By then, I guess they reckon, maybe she won't need that hearing aid any more.