The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) has released their April – June (Q2) 2019 results of its members, painting a picture of both growth and decline in the UK and Irish hearing care markets.

NHS sales dropped by 24% from Q1 2019, a figure BIHIMA say is partially explained by the fact that there had been an unusually high volume of sales in the previous quarter, up 34.7% on Q1 2018. The NHS stockpiled products in first quarter of the year in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. This caused an inevitable drop off in Q2, with NHS units down to 329,801.

The data from Ireland shows a similarly sharp drop off from the beginning of the year. Units sold dropped by 18%, from 16,200 in Q1 2019 to 13,169 in Q2.

However, private sales in the UK continued their strong performance with hearing instrument sales up 4.4% on Q1, from 82,573 to 86,250 units sold.

Product styles

BIHIMA also tracks the trends in the styles of technology being selected by patients in the private sector. The Q2 data demonstrates the continued dominance of RITE (receiver in the ear) technology, now representing 75% of all sales. Interestingly, having shown a huge decline in recent years, BTE (behind the ear) devices have shown a slight improvement in 2019, holding at around 3% of market share. However, there has been a marked decrease in the numbers of ITE (in the ear) products sold, down to 11.4% in Q2 2019 from 15.5% in the same quarter last year.

In its role as the voice for the hearing technology industry, BIHIMA regularly monitors the market and releases the data of its members every quarter. To keep up to date with the latest market information, download the results here.

“The security of our supply chains – many of our members manufacture outside the UK – means our industry is in a robust position, even in these uncertain political times when many other markets are under threat. We are encouraged by the continued growth of the UK private sector, as well as by the precautionary measures taken by the NHS in their stock purchases and we anticipate the NHS market will return to full strength in the near future,” said the BIHIMA chairman, Paul Surridge.