Discover our position on many aspects of access to health services and social care for people with hearing loss.
Government, the NHS, GPs and other health care services must take action to meet the requirements of equality legislation and standards for accessible information and communication, to ensure people with hearing loss can access health care without barriers.
This report examines the experiences of people with hearing loss and deafness when accessing primary healthcare services in Northern Ireland.
We believe people with a hearing loss in both ears should always be offered two hearing aids, when clinically suitable. They should be advised on the benefits of two hearing aids, taking into consideration their individual hearing loss and lifestyle, so that they can make an informed decision.
We're supportive of patient choice and recognise that the process of getting hearing aids can vary. However, it should always involve a full hearing assessment from a qualified professional, who can ensure hearing aids are fitted correctly for the individual’s hearing loss and particular needs.
More adults could benefit from cochlear implantation. This statement makes recommendations for how this can be achieved, including calling on NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to review and update its guidance, better public awareness and improved referral rates from audiology.
Action on Hearing Loss believes that people with hearing loss should have access to the community equipment and assistive technology that will help them to manage their hearing loss effectively and benefit more fully from their hearing aids.
Any Qualified Provider (AQP) was introduced in 2012. It means that any healthcare provider, including the NHS, independent, voluntary and third sector organisations, can deliver NHS services, providing they meet NHS quality requirements, prices and contracts.
For many people with hearing loss, lipreading is a vital communication skill. Most people learn to lipread by attending classes, which also provide useful information and support. We want to see lipreading support more widely available and recognised as an essential part of rehabilitation.
People with hearing loss have access to different levels and types of social services provision, depending on where they live, which can make it difficult for people to move. We support reforms to the rules that would help people live in their preferred locality and living arrangement.
It is possible to obtain hearing aids free of charge on long term loan from the NHS, following a referral from a GP. Alternately, private hearing aid dispensers can assess someone's hearing and supply digital hearing aids, without a GP referral.
When people need social care services, such as equipment to help them hear, this may be funded by their local authority. Action on Hearing Loss believes social care should be funded in a transparent and sustainable way, to address high levels of unmet need and provide high-quality social services.
We believe high-quality support, therapies and information are vital in easing the distress tinnitus can cause. Provision of audiology and tinnitus services should be protected, local variation in access and quality of services should be addressed, and there should be better public awareness about prevention.
Targets have been introduced to help guarantee timely intervention for people with hearing loss. These are monitored by different health bodies, and there are recommended courses for action if these waiting times are not met.
People with hearing loss should receive appropriate information on wax management, and wax removal services should be accessible to all. Ear wax is normal but excessive ear wax is one of the most common causes of temporary hearing loss and a major cause of hearing aid failure.