Support our campaign to keep hearing aids free on the NHS in England for everyone who needs them, regardless of the level of their hearing loss.
Hearing aids are a lifeline to people with hearing loss and have been available on the NHS since 1948. But this lifeline is being put at risk.
Since 2014, 13 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), who buy local hearing aid services for areas of England, have announced proposals to stop giving NHS hearing aids to people with mild or moderate hearing loss. This is despite clear evidence of the benefits that hearing aids have for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
With your help, we fought against each CCG proposal to restrict who gets hearing aids. As a result, 12 of the 13 CCGs agreed to keep providing hearing aids to everyone who needs them.
We continue to fight the one CCG, North Staffordshire, that went ahead and restricted the provision of hearing aids.
What we want to change
North Staffordshire CCG has restricted provision of NHS hearing aids since 2015. This forces people in the area to buy expensive hearing aids from private providers, or do without.
We want North Staffordshire to lift the restrictions on who gets hearing aids.
We also want to make sure that other CCGs understand the importance of providing hearing aids to everybody who needs them, so they don’t consider cutting them.
There are five other CCGs in Staffordshire that are currently considering introducing restrictions on who gets hearing aids. We’re working hard with our campaigners to try to stop this from happening, and to show the CCGs the benefits of providing hearing aids, both for patients and the NHS.
Why CCGs should provide hearing aids
There is clear and comprehensive evidence of the clinical benefits of providing hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Studies have shown that for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, hearing aids improve communication, relationships, self-confidence, social participation and overall health, and that they reduce depression and anxiety.
In 2018, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides the government with guidance and advice on the cost-effectiveness of treatments, recommended that hearing aids should be provided to all adults whose hearing loss affects their ability to communicate. CCGs are meant to adhere to this guidance.
There is also growing evidence linking the use of hearing aids to the prevention of other conditions, including depression and cognitive decline which, if untreated, can lead to dementia.
To find out more about the importance of hearing aids, read our report Hearing Matters.
Join our Campaigns Network to receive email updates on our campaigns, including our fight to defend NHS hearing aids, and the latest opportunities to get involved. Together, we can make change happen.
Timeline of the campaign so far
- 13 CCGs proposed to stop giving NHS hearing aids to people with “mild” or “moderate” hearing loss
- North Staffordshire began enforcing their policy, restricting the provision of NHS hearing aids for people with “mild” or “moderate” hearing loss.
- By 2016, with your help, we convinced all of the CCGs to abandon their plans and keep providing NHS hearing aids for all that need them – except North Staffordshire, who cited a lack of evidence in favour of hearing aids for mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
- A Cochrane review shows that hearing aids are an effective clinical treatment for “mild” and “moderate” hearing loss, and could improve the ability to take part in everyday life and general quality of life.
- A Lancet Commission on Dementia stated that hearing loss in midlife is the largest modifiable risk factor for dementia. Read more about the latest research in this area.
- The first NICE guidelines for hearing loss are published, which recommend offering hearing aids based on need and not the results of a hearing test.
- The six CCGs across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent carried out a public engagement process in early 2020 to find out local opinion on the provision of five treatments and services, including those for adults with hearing loss. They did this with a view to aligning policies – meaning there is a risk of the restrictive policy in North Staffordshire spreading.
- In February we held a meeting in North Staffordshire with representatives from the CCGs and invited local people to share their views. A local Councillor, Charlotte Atkins, attended this event and spoke about her concerns that the CCGs should be “levelling up” their services, rather than “levelling down”.
- The public engagement process showed that public opinion backs providing hearing aids on the NHS for all that need them.
- We sent a letter to North Staffordshire CCG asking them to reinstate hearing aids immediately.
- North Staffordshire CCG removed restrictions to hearing aid provision for people with “moderate” hearing loss but announced they still plan to review hearing aids for “mild” hearing loss, with the potential to extend this policy across the entire county.
- We welcomed this long overdue progress but wrote a letter calling on them to urgently go further and stop restricting access for patients with “mild” hearing loss, and for the other CCGs in the area to abandon any plan to restrict access.