For as long as most of us can remember there has been a lengthy wait for a NHS hearing assessment and the subsequent fitting of NHS analogue hearing aid, with many people waiting many months to complete the process.
The more recent introduction of digital hearing aids has greatly improved the performance of modern hearing aids. However this has also lead to an increase in demand from new users and those looking to upgrade their current analogue hearing aids. This increased demand has impacted service levels and many NHS waiting lists have increased as a result.
It is a Government commitment to ensure assessments for hearing aids are made within a six weeks. Unfortunately this target only relates to the first stage of the process and makes no difference if patients have to endure months on a waiting list before prescribed hearing aid is actually fitted. Lengthy delays between assessment and fitting can also lead to the need for a re-assessment at the time of fitting.
The RNID estimates that around five hundred thousand people are currently waiting to have digital hearing aids fitted by the NHS.
The RNID also said:
“We remain seriously concerned about the capacity of the NHS to meet the Government’s aim of ensuring that no-one waits more than 18 weeks for a hearing aid fitting by the end of 2008.”
There main area of concern is that the push to meet these new targets may result in a fall in the quality of the service offered.
As a result many people in the UK choose to opt out of the NHS service and buy their digital hearing aid directly from a retailer who can offer instant services.