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Save NHS hearing aids in Staffordshire

We continue to fight the restriction of NHS hearing aids across Staffordshire.

Why we are campaigning

In 2015, North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) restricted the provision of hearing aids, denying access to patients with a mild or moderate hearing loss who would benefit from hearing aids. 

The decision was made in the face of the overwhelming evidence that shows that hearing aids are clinically effective and cost-effective for the NHS.

Under the CCG’s current policy:

  • NHS hearing aids are not routinely available to adult patients with mild hearing loss. These patients are still eligible for free NHS hearing tests, although no other treatment is available.
  • Adults with moderate hearing loss restricted access to hearing aids based on a hearing loss questionnaire – this should not be used to decide hearing aid eligibility. Many people who could benefit from hearing aids are denied access.

We have campaigned against this unfair restriction. But despite your support and our best efforts, North Staffordshire CCG continues to restrict the provision of hearing aids.

Recent developments

There are five other CCGs providing healthcare across the county of Staffordshire, none of which have imposed restrictions on the provision of hearing aids – yet. 

They are:

  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Stafford and Surrounds
  • Cannock Chase
  • East Staffordshire
  • South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula.

The six CCGs, the organisations that buy NHS services for the patients in their areas, across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent recently carried out a public engagement process, where they spoke to local residents about the provision of five treatments and services, including those for adult patients with hearing loss. 

The CCGs are trying to align their policies – which could mean that the restrictions already in place in North Staffordshire are replicated across the rest of Staffordshire and Stoke. 

The public engagement finished on 1 March 2020 but you can find more details, including information on the survey ran by the CCGs, on the Stafford and Surrounds CCG website.

During the public engagement period, we shared the survey with our members and supporters and encouraged as many as possible to respond. We also held a public meeting to allow people with hearing loss to put their concerns directly to the CCG.

Thank you to everyone who took part.

What the CCGs said about hearing aids 

During the public engagement process, the CCGs were reviewing their policy on hearing aids, with the clear potential to introduce restrictions. The current policy in North Staffordshire affects those with hearing loss between 20db and  55db – this is described as mild-to-moderate hearing loss but does not reflect the hearing difficulty that an individual may have. 

Someone with this level of hearing loss is likely to have difficulty following conversations against even a low level of background noise without hearing aids, and the worse the hearing loss is within this range, the more difficulty the individual is likely to have.

What happens next

The CCGs are currently studying the responses to the engagement process and will compile these responses into a publically available report. But we don’t expect them to make a big announcement on their next steps for some time. 

The CCGs will be deciding which service changes they want to take to a full, formal public consultation. So we do not expect the CCGs to further restrict hearing aid provision without further engagement with the public.

We will continue to engage with the CCGs during the process and, together, we can campaign vigorously against any formal proposal to restrict the provision of NHS hearing aids.

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