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Patients Offered Just One Hearing Aid At Some NHS Hospitals

Policy Changes Could Put Hearing At Risk, Says Charity


Changes in policy at some NHS hospitals have led to some deaf people being offered only a single hearing aid when they should be given two, it has been revealed.

The charity Action on Hearing Loss found four hospital trusts in England and four health boards in Wales that now initially offer one hearing aid, and a second only if the patient requests it.

In England, trusts in Sheffield, Gloucestershire, Medway and North Lincolnshire and Goole have introduced the policy, along with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board in Wales.

The move is billed as a cost-cutting measure, but it is believed to save only £90 per person – and the charity warned that it puts patients' hearing at risk over the long term.

"With only one hearing aid, the ability to understand speech from the unaided ear can deteriorate over time to the point that it can’t be recovered," Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive Paul Breckell told the Daily Mail.

Expert Opinion
The findings of Action on Hearing Loss are extremely worrying, as the failure to provide the hearing aids required by deaf people could be putting their health and safety at risk. In our work we have seen first-hand the impact hearing loss can have and how heavily those suffering with these issues rely on the use of hearing aids and other support services.

“It is important these reports are taken into account and an investigation is carried out at the hospital trusts identified to understand why patients are not being offered the equipment they require. It is crucial patients are reassured that these issues will be resolved immediately and that they will receive the quality of care and support they require.

“While we understand the need to cut costs, it is important any decisions made take into account the impact they will have on patients, which in this case will impact the day-to-day lives of those suffering with hearing problems.”
Mark Allen, Associate Director

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