Should hearing loss services offer a choice?

NHS England hearing loss services are under review to ensure patient needs are being met.

Regulatory body Monitor is undertaking a review of hearing loss services across NHS England to ascertain whether patient needs are being adequately met.

The review will focus on whether patients offered a choice of hearing aids and tests are more satisfied with the service than those not offered a choice, helping local commissioners better design their local services in the future to meet the needs of patients.

It is estimated that around 500,000 people aged over 55 accessing hearing loss services on the NHS are offered a choice in their treatment and care options as many CCGs establish contracts with both NHS bodies and private sector providers for these services.

Monitor is looking to ascertain whether having a choice enhances the service experience for patients, with patient experiences and opinions sought via an online survey.

There will also be online poll for GPs, commissioners and health care providers as part of the review to offer health professionals the opportunity to express their views on current service provision and the perceived benefits of choice for patients.

Various hearing loss charities, including Action on Hearing Loss, are involved with the review, many of which feel strongly about the need to monitor and reform services for those with hearing problems.

Action on Hearing Loss’ director of policy and campaigns, Roger Wicks, said: “Since any qualified provider was rolled out, there have been concerns about the quality and choice of hearing loss services on offer, hence our campaigning for it to be properly monitored and evaluated.

The results of the review – expected in the coming months – will be made available to local commissioners to help them design and commission hearing loss service in the future.