You may have seen in the news lately that there has been uproar about some NHS trusts reducing Audiology services available, limiting hearing aids to one per person and intending to scrap face to face follow up appointments with their patients.
It is appalling that they even considered reducing the services that so many rely on. By limiting hearing aids to only one per person they are risking further deterioration in the unaided ear which can never be recovered once lost. This can cause so many issues if for example, the hearing aid given malfunctions/breaks (as often technology does), how is the patient meant to communicate and carry on with their everyday life if they cannot hear anything? For elderly patients this will be something that can seriously endanger their lives or at least, isolate them from their family and peers.
Aiding only one ear can also increase the likelihood of balance disorders, mental health issues, developmental and emotional problems. There is a proven link between deafness and mental health problems due to delays in being able to receive appropriate medical attention. For a mental health issue to be diagnosed and effectively maintained, the NHS would have to diagnose and treat the condition, costing them more money than the potential £90 hearing aid they initially denied.
Surely choosing to deny the hearing impaired appropriate treatment, in this case, two hearing aids, is tantamount to discrimination? You wouldn’t give someone with sight issues a monocle so why can they give the hearing impaired only one aid?
There is also the intention to scrap face to face follow up appointments with patients following fitting of hearing aids which is quite frankly, laughable. How else are they meant to get the necessary adjustments made to their hearing aids? It is not simply a case of giving them an aid and all is suddenly ‘fixed’ it can take several weeks/months to get the tuning right as everyone is different and has a different level of hearing loss. You need to be able to talk to the audiologists about your individual needs and not be treated like a statistic.
Some NHS providers are proposing to make patients wait until their hearing dramatically worsens before seeking help – again, this is not something that they would do in a “normal “medical situation, so why can they here? If the patient suffers from a condition such as Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, delaying any treatment could mean the permanent loss of their hearing – again, costing the NHS more money. If they had treated the condition when the patient first presented symptoms they could have potentially saved their patients hearing AND the cost of hearing aids.
To me, the proposed budget cuts have not been well thought out and I believe they will actually end up costing them more. If we allow the proposed plans, we risk becoming a country where severe hearing loss is the norm as no one will seek attention until the problem is too big to ignore. This could mean thousands, if not millions of people will potentially be unable to carry out their jobs, costing the country more in disability and employment benefits.
If you missed all the news articles, have a look at;
If you would like to sign a petition to Jeremy Hunt to stop the rationing of hearing aids, click on the below link: