Halt the cutbacks in hearing aid provision

Charlie Taylor

In Devon, NHS patients who suffer from deafness have been told that they can in future only have one hearing aid. This could be a sign of things to come in the NHS nationwide. 25 Clinical Commissioning Groups are currently planning to cut audiology services. At least two may deny hearing aids to people with “mild to moderate” hearing loss.

As a 57 year old who has just had two new NHS digital hearing aids these proposals horrify me. Hearing loss is a disability and can have a debilitating effect. My last pair of aids lasted eight years. What will happen when my new ones need replacing?

Trying to function day-to-day – even with the best aids – can be very difficult. Some situations are impossible depending on surrounding noise. Every day I find myself having to tell someone that I am not ignorant, but I can’t hear what they are saying. Very often they will reply ‘eh’ jokingly. If only they knew how difficult it can be.

Before Christmas I declined to join the annual get together with my ex-workmates as they tend to visit noisy bars. I end up feeling isolated and frustrated at not being able to join in and can’t see the point of being there. They just think of me as a party pooper.

My hearing loss started at a very young age but in those days the signs were not picked up. I struggled at school not realising it was due to not being able to hear well and keep up with lessons. As a result I was shy and insular as a young child. The impact lasts a lifetime.

These signs are picked up today which enables young children to be given special needs. They will still, however, be the deaf adults of the future and if they are denied hearing aids then they are denied the right to a better quality of life.