The NHS will start denying people with hearing problems access to hearing aids for the first time from Thursday in a controversial move that critics claim will worsen sufferers’ social isolation. The GP-led NHS clinical commissioning group in North Staffordshire is taking the unprecedented step of ceasing to provide free hearing aids to mainly elderly people in its area with mild hearing loss.
It is also making it harder for those with moderate hearing loss to get access to hearing aids by introducing new eligibility criteria against which patients will be judged.
Campaigners and hearing experts have criticised the new policy as “ill thought-through, baffling and unprecedented”.
The CCG says the new restrictions are necessary to help it save money, and will save it about £200,000 in the first year. But the charity Action on Hearing Loss claims that hearing aids cost the NHS as little as £90 each. The CCG estimates that its new policy will lead to about 500 people a year no longer getting a hearing aid to help mitigate the decline in their hearing capacity, which sufferers say damages their quality of life. They will now have to decide whether to pay the much higher prices charged by high street providers, which can charge many thousands of pounds.
Full story at The Guardian 1 October 2015