Chairman’s Message – Autumn 2015

‘Transforming knowledge to sound practice’ is the excellent title for the next BSA Annual Conference in April next year. This title brilliantly sums up the role of the BSA and bodes well for a really good, redesigned and relaunched conference and I hope that as many BSA members as possible will support it. The move of our conference to a different time of year was a tough decision, not without controversy- but I am convinced it was the best thing to do and it offers a great opportunity for a new ‘can’t miss’ meeting that should become an important fixture in the annual audiology calendar. The BSA’s SIGs (Special Interest Groups) have each organised sessions for the conference, so we can be confident that there will be something for everyone; the new structure of the meeting, with the first day devoted to basic science and the subsequent days focussing on clinical and translational science, is intended to meet the needs of all of our clinical, scientific and academic communities. I look forward to seeing you there!

The BSA’s role as a key source of expert and scientific advice has been emphasised again recently as we have joined forces with other interested organisations and the Alliance on hearing loss and deafness to protest against the apparent epidemic of CCGs (Commissioning Groups) that are proposing to limit the funding for hearing aids. Many of you will have seen the publicity about the decision by North Staffordshire to set a hearing threshold for the funding of aids for ‘mild’ hearing losses based on puretone thresholds. This has been much derided in the media, and the BSA has been at the forefront in challenging these plans, in close alliance with Action on Hearing Loss and the BAA. However, the rationing of hearing aids in that area is now continuing regardless and the fight has moved to a new battleground, this time in Essex. I fear that if ‘mild’ hearing loss is seen as an ‘easy win’ in cost-saving terms, these proposals are likely to spread; it is vital that we help garner all available scientific evidence so that any more money-saving proposals that will mainly affect people with age-related hearing loss are robustly contested. The BSA is going to have an increasingly important role in this affair.

The topic of adult hearing loss and how to provide the best possible help in a cash-strapped environment was discussed in detail at the one-day conference ‘Bending the Spend’ organised by the Ear Foundation in Westminster last week; I was invited to represent the BSA a speaker in what was an excellent day, and I gained an overwhelming sense of friendship and collaboration from the other speakers and delegates. It was great to see that we have many common aims with other organisations in our field.

As you will know, the administration of the BSA is now very ably looked after by a professional association management company, Fitwise Ltd, and we have closed the old BSA office in Reading. We are two months into our new working relationship with Fitwise and they have already proved themselves as an efficient, professional organisation and new partner for the BSA; I am very keen that we can now use this opportunity to focus on achieving our aims and objectives. These were discussed in detail amongst members of the council at our away day earlier this year, and  have been eloquently summarised in the BSA Strategic Plan, put together by our operations manager Laura Turton, and will be published imminently- I urge you to look out for this important document which sets out our visions and ambitions for the next 3 to 5 years.

Best wishes to all

Huw Cooper

Chair