Following the announcement by Matt Hancock, MP at 5 pm on Friday 5th June, that all hospital staff will be required to wear Type 1 or 2 surgical masks at all times and that all hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings, BAA Board have written letters to RT Hon Matt Hancock, Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Health Service, and Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer.

Whilst the British Academy of Audiology supports the use of face masks to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, we are concerned that this will create a significant disadvantage to the 1 in 6 of the UK population who are Deaf or have hearing loss and rely on lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate. The BAA call for urgent action on several issues:

  • Agreement that staff are directed to remove face masks whilst conducting video consultations/telehealth appointments throughout hospitals in any department.
  • If a patient identifies themselves as requiring lip-reading anywhere in the NHS, staff be permitted to conduct their appointment without a face mask at a 2m distance.
  • Provision for NHS staff who are Deaf or have hearing loss? Is there extra funding available to have access to technology, for example, remote microphones for hearing aid users, employer provision of tablets for using speech to text apps? How will this be equitable across the NHS Trusts and how can this be accessed?
  • Publication of attached good communication tactics to every hospital staff member.
  • Sharing information to the wider public audience on good communication tactics to help reduce the anxiety for those with hearing loss and Deafness which may now prevent them from attending hospital appointments.
  • Assurance is also required for our Audiologists that their departments will be able to access adequate PPE to enable them to continue with their plans to rebuild services.

BAA Board encourages all members to write to their Members of Parliament. A template letter has been written for you to use (or to crib as you see fit). Information on how to find and address your MP can be found here.

BAA members in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, may wish to consider sending this template letter to their representative.

Please share any replies you receive with BAA, either on social media, or email them to