Action on Hearing Loss and the UK’s leading organisation for people who use cochlear implants, the Ear Foundation, are urging the Government and the NHS to provide better access to cochlear implantation.
To mark International Cochlear Implant Day, on Thursday 25th February, Action on Hearing Loss and the Ear Foundation are highlighting the benefits of cochlear implantation and barriers preventing adults from accessing this life changing technology.
There is good evidence suggesting cochlear implants are cost effective and produce positive results, including improved communication, speech perception and reduced levels of tinnitus, but studies show that less than 5% of adults who could benefit from cochlear implantation currently do so.
Action on Hearing Loss and the Ear Foundation are calling on UK governments and the NHS to improve access to cochlear implants and to increase awareness of their benefits among both patients and hearing loss services.
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “The Government’s Action Plan on Hearing Loss, launched last year, calls for better access to cochlear implantation in England. That such a tiny proportion of adults who could benefit from cochlear implants actually do so, demonstrates that more needs to be done to put the Action Plan into practice.”
Sue Archbold at the Ear Foundation, said: "Hearing is one of the most acute unmet needs in terms of the health of older people today as they face a greater risk from health problems and the social isolation of deafness."
Current NICE guidelines, set in 2009, recommend one cochlear implant for adults with severe to profound hearing loss, and two for children. Since then, the cost of cochlear implantation has come down and new evidence suggests a second implant in adults may provide additional benefits, such as reducing feelings of loneliness and depression. Studies also show that greater knowledge and understanding of the benefits of cochlear implantation, amongst audiology professionals, could increase the number of audiologists offering cochlear implantation as an option.
Action on Hearing Loss has developed a policy statement recommending that government and NHS guidelines be reviewed to make sure cochlear implantation is offered as an option to all those who would gain a significant improvement in their quality of life. Current NICE guidelines should also be reviewed to take into account the reduced cost of cochlear implantation and new evidence of the benefits of fitting two implants in adults.
To read Action on Hearing Loss’ policy statement on cochlear implantation, please visit http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/supporting-you/policy-research-and-influencing/policy/policy-statements/health-and-social-care.aspx.