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Hearing loss affects over 10 million adults and 45,000 children in the UK. This equates to 1 in 6 of the population. By 2031, it is estimated that 14.5 million people in the UK, approximately 1 in 5 of the population, will have a hearing loss.[1] The most common form of hearing loss is age-related, and the prevalence of deafness approximately doubles with every decade of life.[2]

The NHS Choices website provides some general information on the treatment of hearing loss.

In England local clinical commissioning groups (CCG) are responsible for commissioning the majority of audiology services (audiology is a specialism encompassing tinnitus and balance as well as hearing).

NHS England’s Action Plan on Hearing Loss, published in March 2015, sets out a case for action “to tackle the rising prevalence and personal, social and economic costs of uncorrected hearing loss and the variation in access and quality of services experienced by people with hearing loss.” It proposes addressing this by promoting prevention of hearing loss and improving both the commissioning and integration of services.

The Action Plan sets out five key objectives:

  • Prevention
  • Early diagnosis
  • Integrated, patient centred management
  • Ensuring those diagnosed do not need unscheduled care or become isolated
  • Ability to partake in every-day activities including work.

In 2015 Action on Hearing Loss published a report, Hearing Matters, setting out actions the Government and NHS should take to improve the lives of people with hearing loss (this followed a report of the same name released in 2011). There have been a number of recent PQs about NHS audiology services and the communication needs of the hearing impaired, and these are set out later in this pack.

[1]     Action on Hearing Loss, Hearing Matters, 2015

[2]     The Chief Medical Officer’s Report 2012

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