NHS scaling back on hearing services

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Action on Hearing Loss is urging NHS commissioners to resist cuts to hearing services, following research by the charity finding 43% of adult services affected by budgetary pressures.

In a report entitled ‘Cut off', the charity used data via Freedom of Information requests from heads of audiology at 128 NHS Trusts and found reduced budgets have caused 16% of Trusts to reduce their follow-up appointments.

In addition 15% have experienced an increase in waiting times; 8% reduced the number of specialist staff; two Trusts changed their policies on bilateral hearing aids; and one Trust decommissioned its hearing therapy.

Four Trusts say their policies to routinely provide bilateral hearing aids when clinically appropriate is threatened by financial pressures.

The charity, formerly RNID, said in the long-term, a failure to meet the individual needs of people with hearing loss will lead to higher NHS and social care costs.

Paul Breckell, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, says: "It's concerning that so many audiology departments have already felt the impact of budget cuts.

"Making savings from hearing service cuts right now is a false economy because it will only lead to higher NHS and social care costs to support people with untreated hearing loss in the long run."

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