In order to save money, a number of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have decided to offer only one hearing aid to the hearing impaired, when experts would suggest they wear two.
A loss of hearing has a profound impact on the sufferer and access to hearing aids is crucial. Many people who use hearing aids feel more involved and much happier once their hearing has been improved by these devices.
To be profoundly deaf in both ears and only allowed to use one hearing aid increases the risk of low moods and loneliness. It can be difficult to follow a conversation, hear traffic or feel comfortable in social situations.
Yet three of England’s 211 GP-led local CCGs announced they want to restrict the number of prescribed hearing aids to save money, with further groups in North Staffordshire and Kernow in Cornwall in the process of drafting eligibility criteria to be imposed upon those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
“If you have hearing loss but don’t have hearing aids, you are more prone to depression,” says Louise Hart from Action on Hearing Loss. “My patients often tell me they no longer go to social activities because they can’t hear anymore.”
22 additional CCGs are either planning to adopt similar restrictions or are considering making changes to ‘decommission’ or review some audiology services, which could lead to fewer hearing aids being available to the hearing-impaired.
Whilst it is possible to obtain hearing aids from high street optician chains for cosmetic reasons, the price difference is significant. Many believe the NHS should strive to offer individuals the right care for their own personal needs, as conditions such as hearing loss can have a severe effect on general health and well-being.
“Hearing aids have been free on the NHS since its creation in 1948,” states Dr Roger Wicks, also of Action on Hearing Loss. “[This] is driven by the need to cut costs and has nothing to do with people’s health needs.”
With some patients requiring hearing aids due to potentially avoidable conditions such industrial deafness, it is understandable that this would be a great concern for those affected by hearing aid rationing.
If you have experienced hearing loss due to noise exposure at work, TLW Solicitors may be able to help you obtain compensation and recover the cost of hearing aids.
Provided your claim is supported by medical evidence and confirms that you require hearing aids to help with your hearing loss, we may be able to claim compensation to purchase hearing aids privately.