The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) has added its voice to the objections raised to the withdrawal of NHS hearing aid provision to those with mild hearing loss by North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
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.
Nic Wray, Communications Manager of the British Tinnitus Association, said:
“Today, for the first time, we have been able to see the leaflet North Staffordshire CCG have produced to explain to patients why they will not commission hearing aids in the future. We are in a state of utter disbelief that the CCG believe that their actions and this leaflet is acceptable care.”
She continued: “Here at the British Tinnitus Association, we believe the actions of North Staffordshire CCG could have a very negative impact on people with tinnitus. We know that a hearing aid can be very effective for tinnitus where a mild to moderate hearing loss is present.
From our point of view, it is unacceptable that a person’s degree of hearing loss would be the only factor in considered in determining the need for hearing aid provision, as we know other social, psychological or physical needs are just as important.
Hearing loss at mild or moderate levels can have serious effects on people’s lives, particularly in combination with tinnitus – social withdrawal and feelings of isolation are common, and stress and anxiety is experienced by many. Hearing loss has also been linked to conditions such as depression or dementia.”
“It is very worrying to see that there are now moves by other CCGs to similarly withdraw NHS hearing aid provision across Staffordshire. We are working with other organisations in the sector to respond to these moves, but it is vital that people across Staffordshire act now to protect this vital service and we would urge them to get in touch with their local MPs, councillors and CCGs to object to these cruel and unnecessary cutbacks.”