Get the most up to date information on topics and issues that affect our profession and the services we provide.
Healthcare Leaders call for Action on Hearing Loss
A new ‘Action Plan on Hearing Loss’ to support services for deaf people and those with diminishing hearing has been produced by NHS England and the Department of Health.
To view the plan CLICK HERE
The plan has been developed with a number of organisations including Public Health England, hearing loss charities and those whose hearing is directly affected. Aimed at commissioners, Clinical Commissioning Groups, GPs and healthcare providers, the report identifies multiple health and social issues associated with hearing loss. It recommends ways that services for children, young people, working age and older adults living with hearing loss can be improved.
Hearing loss affects the development of language in children. It reduces chances of employment in adults and also increases the risk of other health problems such as mental health. Additionally, hearing loss and deafness reduces people’s ability to care for their own and their families’ long-term health conditions.
The report sets out five key objectives in in the following areas:
- Good prevention – for example reducing the numbers of young people and adults with noise induced hearing loss; including through immunisation and screening and utilising quality data to understand the social, financial and personal health advantages
- Earlier diagnosis – for example improving outcomes for babies with hearing loss, increasing identification of the number of children and adults in at risk groups
- Integrated services – for example reducing developmental and educational gaps due to childhood hearing loss and increasing the number of children, young people and adults with a personalised care plan
- Increased independence and ageing well – for example including access to technology including support by mobile or tele healthcare and improving access to wider health services from primary to end of life care
- Good learning outcomes – for example including improving employment opportunities for young people and adults and reducing development and attainment gaps between deaf and hearing children
The direct cost to the NHS of managing hearing loss is estimated to cost up to £450 million a year. Clinical Commissioning Groups will continue to decide what is commissioned locally to address local hearing needs.
Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England, said:
“This plan acknowledges and begins to address the growing problems of hearing loss which has significant economic, social and personal consequences including unemployment and feelings of isolation, exclusion and even depression.”
A hearing loss commissioning framework is also planned to ensure a more person centred and integrated approach and encourage best practice across hearing loss service commissioners.
Professor Sue Hill OBE, Chief Scientific Officer Healthcare Science, said:
“I was very pleased to lead the development of the Action Plan which represents a true partnership with all stakeholders and provides an excellent blueprint for bringing together a wide range of public organisations committed to improving services for children and adults with hearing loss. Hearing problems are a growing challenge with over 10 million people living with some form of hearing loss which impacts on their ability to fully participate in society which are addressed in this Plan.”
Brian Lamb OBE, Chair of the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance, said: "The impact of hearing loss on peoples overall health and well-being has been hugely underestimated until now. The Action Plan is a welcome and essential step to ensure that there is a more joined up approach across pubic services working with the hearing loss sector. We know that if people are supported to address their hearing loss early they will have better health and well-being leading to less pressure on health and social care services in the future. We have the technology and knowledge to address hearing loss; the Action Plan will help ensure we do so."
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss, said: “The Action Plan finally recognises hearing loss as a priority health issue, reflecting the scale of the condition that affects one in six people across the UK. We know that consistent, high-quality services are vital to ensure that people are able to seek advice from their GP, understand the impacts of, and best manage their hearing loss. We’re eager to ensure that the promised standards are developed as soon as possible, to avoid this much-anticipated Plan gathering dust on a shelf.”
The British Academy of Audiology welcomes the publication of the Action Plan on Hearing Loss. The five key objectives set out in the plan Good prevention, Earlier diagnosis, Integrated services, Increased independence and Good learning outcomes all lead to better outcomes for people with hearing loss. Evidence shows early intervention and management of hearing loss improves long term health and well being which in turn reduces the pressure on health and social care services in the future. We have the ability to help people with a hearing loss with the latest technologies, which is constantly moving forward, and we hope the action plan will help commissioners to make sensible choices around spending on hearing care. BAA supports the development of standards which now need to be in place to support the action plan going forward.
Letter to Norman Lamb
Alison Walsh, President of the BAA has written a letter to Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support requesting urgent publication of the Action Plan on Hearing Loss in light of the recent commissioning decision by North Staffs and the imminent election.
To read the letter CLICK HERE
Reply from Norman Lamb
Please read the response to Alison Walsh's letter here.
The British Academy of Audiology welcomes the NHS regulator Monitor’s review of adult hearing services.
NHS adult hearing services in England: exploring how choice is working for patients
BAA agrees that hearing loss becomes harder to manage the longer it is ignored. It is associated with poor mental health, dementia and other long-term conditions. The NHS currently funds the provision of hearing aids and other services to help people manage age-related hearing loss.
The report indicates both patients and providers can see the benefits of extending choice in adult hearing care which supports the aims of NHS England’s Five year Forward View, however, it found that patients were not always offered a choice, even in areas where choice should have been available. Only one in ten patients surveyed reported they had been offered a choice of hearing service provider.
BAA asks the question “If there is no robust support system in place for all agencies to help patients make choice then how can we truly call it informed choice?”
In some areas the costs did rise which seems to have been due to the set up costs, extra resources required to monitor the contracts and an increase in patients, who could benefit from adult hearing services, accessing the service. Providers are required to report their service outcomes to commissioners who are then able to use the service outcome data to drive further improvements in services for patients.
The report findings suggest the qualification process can be onerous, inconsistent and unclear for commissioners and providers alike. Monitor’s commissioner support strategy and the actions they are proposing to make choice work better for patients seems to be a positive way forward. The survey did identify a few people accessing NHS-funded care who said they felt under pressure to adopt hearing aids they had to pay for. The numbers affected appear to be small, less than 1%, however BAA feel this figure should never rise above zero.
BAA would now ask that NHS England and DH Action Plan for Hearing Loss be published. The action plan will cover a full range of hearing issues and will be devoted to the development of a commissioning framework for hearing services. This in turn should provide commissioners with the best possible resource to shape services fit for the future.
BAA will continue to work with NHS England, DH and our partners in the Alliance to ensure that the work continues and high quality hearing services are available and accessible to all who need them.
An open letter from Dawn Bramham, Chair of the Audiology Supplies Group (ASG) to the Audiology community
Dawn Bramham, Chair of the Audiology Supplies Group (ASG)
The renewal of NHS Supply Chain’s Hearing Aid and Accessories framework agreement last August is something that has possibly passed a lot of people by.
New ranges of hearing aids available to the NHS through NHS Supply Chain is a fairly regular occurrence.
- But how do you know that the aids are fit for purpose?
- That they work within the unique setting that is the NHS?
- How do the NHS benefit from what are very keen prices compared to the rest of the world?
- Who checks that the hearing aids do what they are meant to do?
- That they work with the myriad of FM systems that education services use?
The Hearing Aid and Accessories framework renewal (August 2014) was the culmination of two years work by the Audiology Supplies Group (ASG), Public Health England, suppliers and NHS Supply Chain to bring the best possible technology to the NHS, available at the best global price.
You can read the full article from the Supply Chain Website here: http://www.supplychain.nhs.uk/news/company/open-letter-from-dawn-bramham-audiology/
Healthcare Scientists Training Capacity Survey
Health Education England (HEE) in conjunction with the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) is conducting an online survey to identify and assess the opportunities for improvement in training capacity across healthcare science (HCS) training institutions.
The survey is now Live and available at:
Closing Date 31st March 2015
Important information for all healthcare scientists and healthcare science practitioners
Are you a practicing Healthcare Scientist or a Healthcare Science Practitioner?
Did you train before the Modernising Scientific Careers programme was introduced?
Is public and patient safety your priority?
If you have answered yes to any one or more of these questions, then read on, this information is important to you.
The Academy for Healthcare Science offers an equivalence process that leads to eligibility to apply to join an NHS recognised and supported register. Gaining ‘equivalence’ means that all your previous training, qualifications, professional development and invaluable experience can be recognised and validated against the new career framework. You will then be eligible to join the Health and Care Professions Council register (for Clinical Scientists) or the Academy for Healthcare Science accredited register (for Healthcare Science Practitioners). This register is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), and is the only one of its kind to be so.
Being on one of these registers offers a considerable degree of assurance around patient safety, quality, competence and commitment to your employers, your colleagues and your patients. Although, for some, registration remains voluntary, employers are increasingly making registration a condition of employment so gaining equivalence, and then registration, opens up routes for career progression previously unavailable to you. Equivalence can cost as little as £50.
For more information about equivalence and registration visit our website at www.ahcs.ac.uk. You will also find the PSA report on accredited registers there.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The British Tinnitus Association is calling for applications to its Large Research ProjectScheme which will help lead to improving the lives of people with tinnitus. There is a total of £75,000 available in the current round and it is anticipated that the BTA will commission 1-2 projects of high quality. We welcome applications from clinicians.
Applications are actively encouraged in the following areas, although all applications will be considered:
• Mechanisms of tinnitus/identifying potential therapeutic targets
• Existing and novel practice/treatment
• Population/demographic/epidemiology/economic studies
Deadline for applications: Thursday 30 April at 17.00.
Applications will be reviewed by an expert panel with decisions being notified to successful applicants in early summer.
David Stockdale, Chief Executive of the BTA says: “The BTA is delighted to be able to commission substantial pieces of research and looks forward to receiving applications from across the UK. Research into tinnitus is of vital importance in the race to find a cure or ways to help alleviate the condition for the thousands of people who experience it.”
Only applications led by a UK institution will be considered and applications from individuals will not be accepted. Applications will be judged on scientific rigour as well as clinical impact.
Ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion on Hearing loss
On 4th February Alan Meale MP tabled an Early day motion (EDM) number 772
in the House of Commons on HEARING LOSS
The motion calls for the House to acknowledge the forthcoming publication of the National Action Plan on Hearing Loss; but calls on the Government to request the NHS to commission NICE to prioritise the immediate development of a hearing loss clinical guideline to establish and maintain quality standards for patients suffering hearing loss.
Read it here
The way an EDM works is the more MPs that sign it and show support
Early Day Motions (EDMs) are used by MPs to express their opinion on something or to draw the attention of the Commons to a particular issue or campaign. Other MPs can show their support for a particular EDM by adding their signature to it. While they are not normally debated, an EDM that attracts hundreds of signatures from MPs of all parties is likely to result in some kind of response from the Government.
We would like to ask you to consider asking your own MP if they are going to support the motion and add their signature to it. To find your MP and how to contact them visit this web page:
Action on Hearing Loss Launch the Under Pressure Report
Action on Hearing loss launch a new research report: (www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/underpressure).
Based on the findings from a survey of 140 NHS adult audiology providers, the research shows that NHS audiology services across the UK are under significant pressure, with two in every five (41%) offering patients a reduced service as a result of budget cuts or increased demand. It shows that short of removing provision altogether, many providers are being forced to make other changes to their services such as reducing follow up appointments, reducing the number/skill level of staff, increasing waiting times, and/or reducing home visits, and that there is much variation across the UK.
Their findings show that it is vital that there is proper investment in audiology services and that quality standards are in place and enforced, to provide evidence-based guidance to providers and commissioners.
Action on Hearing Loss calls for NICE to prioritise the development of the quality standard on hearing loss. Please help us by taking action (www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/underpressure) to protect the future of hearing loss services, and forwarding this link to other supporters. For people in England, this link will ask people to write to their MP to push for the NICE quality standard. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, it leads to different actions based on the findings of the research.
If you have any queries do contact Chris Wood
Chris Wood PhD | Senior Research and Policy Officer | Action on Hearing Loss
19-23 Featherstone Street, London, EC1Y 8SL
020 7296 8003
BAA are pleased to announce a Bursary Scheme for members
The BAA launched a bursary scheme for BAA members at the 2014 conference.
For further information and to download the bursary application form please download the document below.
Posting Hearing Aid Batteries
Following a recent member enquiry regarding new regulations relating to the postage of Zinc-Air batteries the BAA wrote the following letter to Royal Mail and have since received the response below which we hope will address and concerns members have regarding posting hearing aid batteries to patients-
Dear Royal Mail
I write in my capacity as President of the British Academy of Audiology, the UK largest professional body for professionals who work with people with hearing loss. Nationally there are approximately 2.5 million people using hearing aids and many of these people have hearing aid batteries posted out to them from NHS establishments on a regular basis. Recent information from Royal Mail Suggests you are no longer prepared to allow the postage of Zinc -Air batteries. Can you confirm if this applies to all zinc- air batteries or just those that have been used. Ceasing to allow the postage of new batteries to elderly and often housebound patients would cause significant problems and distress for many. I would therefore value you response asap.
President - British Academy of Audiology
Good morning William,
Thank you for your message.
I would just like to confirm packaging guidelines for sending zinc-air batteries through our network.
These can be sent inland and overseas. However they must be new and sent unopened in their original retail packaging. Surround with cushioning material e.g bubble wrap. The senders name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
Hope this clarifys the situation for you but should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dangerous Goods Team
Scottish Health Service
The service quality standards which are peer audited and peer reviewed in the Scottish Health service are now available to download in the members area of this website on the Service Quality Page.