Professor Kevin J Munro represents BSA: Stop cuts to adult hearing aid provision

Professor Kevin J Munro, immediate past-chair of BSA, represented BSA at the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee on 25 November to discuss the proposal of South Staff CCG to consider stop providing hearing aids to adults unless the average hearing level (250-4000 Hz) exceeds 40 dB. The BSA presentation concentrated on three issues:

1) according to data from the National Study of Hearing, the typical hearing level of someone age 71-80 years of age is around 35 dB (skewed towards better hearing because of the inclusion of 250 Hz) so they would not be eligible for a hearing aid. In fact you would be hard pressed to meet the 40 dB fence if you stuck fingers into both ears, but the implication for communication can hardly be described as mild or insignificant. There is a need to review the fence and there is also a need to include an assessment of the day-to-day difficulties experienced by the individual.

2) The internationally respected body, NICE, are in the process is working on guidelines for adult hearing loss, so amy decision by CCG would be premature and potently attract criticism.

3) The national specification for adult hearing aids requires providers to collect outcome measures and the CCG should be using these to focus on quality of services for their population. This would directly address any concerns about unnecessary provision of hearing aids now that there are a wide range of NHS hearing aid providers, including those on the High Street.

As an impartial body, the BSA has offered support to all CCGs who would like advice and guidance, including an external audit of the services they fund.