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The Ultimate Guide to NHS Hearing Aids

NHS hearing aids are an alternative to buying a device from a high street name in the UK.

NHS hearing aids are a popular topic and not many days pass without a customer asking about them. We thought it may be interesting, therefore, to describe the process and principles that apply to obtaining a hearing aid from the NHS.

NHS Hearing Aids Overview

Let us start by saying that all of us at Hearing Direct are big fans of the NHS and in particular the audiological services it provides.

Under ever-growing funding pressure, we should be proud that our National Health Service is still able to offer a free hearing aid to anyone that needs one (although how sustainable this will become remains to be seen). It is, however, an area under scrutiny and it seems likely that a similar approach to that which saw the provision of glasses move into the private sector with a government contribution will be adopted.

The NHS offers a limited selection of free hearing aids with the option of private treatment. However, heading down the private route could set you back anywhere between £500 - £3,500. Alternative solutions to buying hearing exist in the form of ourselves and we supply a range of affordable digital hearing aids to ease your money woes.

5 Steps to Acquiring NHS Hearing Aids

When it comes down to obtaining hearing aids from the NHS, the process is simple and straightforward.

For now, the process is broad as follows:

1. By far the most common route is to make an appointment with your GP who will run through a screening process to determine the nature of any hearing concerns. Some even offer diagnostic hearing evaluations within their practice although this is rare.

2. Assuming that they do not offer a diagnostic service, then following this initial screening process (which will also serve to help determine whether any hearing loss is being caused by a medical condition, as opposed to the far more common cause which is typically age related) you will be referred to your local hospital’s audiology department for a diagnostic hearing evaluation.

3. The appointment and indeed the entire process falls under governmental targets and almost all NHS hospitals/trusts meet these targets. As a consequence, the 2-year waiting lists have all but disappeared with most patients waiting no longer than a couple of months.

Once you have had your hearing evaluated, the degree or severity of hearing loss is established. The results take the form of an audiogram (amongst other test results such as speech in noise). The degree of loss is measured in decibels against a ‘norm’. Assuming that the results indicate presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) which is the case for about 85% of hearing losses, the audiologist will recommend a hearing aid from the range they have available.

At this point most NHS hearing aids types will not be issued to you (although a growing number of audiology departments do provide some instant fit solutions) but an impression of your ear will be taken using some special material in order to prepare a mould to which the hearing aid is attached and then placed behind the ear. In the ear devices are only offered in very rare circumstances. You will then be offered a future appointment to come back and have the hearing aid fitted; this is typically 2 weeks or so later.

4. The hearing aid fitting appointment is, as the name suggests, where the aid is fitted from a physical and audiological perspective. It will be programmed by the audiologist to your hearing test (audiogram) results and you will be shown how to put it on and remove it and taken through the various aspects of the hearing aid prescribed for you. An interesting but little-known fact is that the hearing aid is not ‘given’ to you but rather loaned to you – the hearing aid always remains the property of the hospital or trust that issued it.

Once this appointment is completed and you have your NHS hearing aids, you will be offered a follow-up appointment (again usually 2 weeks or so later) to determine how you are getting on and whether any adjustments need to be made.

5. During the follow-up appointment, you will be offered some adjustments to the hearing aid’s performance if required and any general usage questions may be answered.

At the end of this appointment, you have reached the end of the official process and any subsequent appointments or requirements fall outside of the governmental targets mentioned in the previous blog on this subject. As a consequence, it can often be difficult to get any immediate help in relation to any problems you may have – mostly a funding and time issue rather than a lack of care.

Free NHS Hearing Aid Batteries

In addition, the NHS provides free hearing aid batteries as well.

The NHS is able to offer a broad selection of hearing aid batteries. Likewise, at Hearing Direct, you will also find a wide choice of batteries to fit a variety of makes and models.

Choosing a brand is mostly personal taste and preference and you may have to experiment with various brands to find which ones you prefer. For hearing aid batteries, try RayovacPower OneZeniPower or Duracell. We also offer trial packs of batteries which let you test different brands before settling on the right source of power.

NHS Hearing Aids Review

To summarize, obtaining NHS hearing aids requires some degree of patience but the quality of care and the performance of the hearing aids have grown significantly better in the last few years.

As mentioned in this blog, we are big fans of the NHS and the work it does to help people with hearing problems.

Hearing Direct was established to provide an additional alternative to the private provision of hearing aids with more realistic prices. Thus enabling those interested in pursuing a private alternative to the NHS to do so in a more affordable and convenient way than before. We offer affordable hearing aids and provide digital hearing aids from £99 which can be delivered to your door the very next day if required; no waiting, no fuss, and no appointments.

Further Reading

Our blog is home to a number of valuable resources, including more informative posts about NHS hearing aids. Below is a selection of articles which we believe you may also be interested in:

If you would like to know more about obtaining NHS hearing aids, then we would be delighted to talk to you; please feel free to contact us on 0800 032 1301 and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have.

3 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to NHS Hearing Aids”

  • Dear Gary, Regarding the last paragraph of your article , many NHS depts use open-fitt for mild presbyacusis losses, not moulds. Might be worth adding this to your final paragraph for complete accuracy. All the best. Simon Redman

  • I have had an NHS Siemens behind the ear hearing aid for brief time; I can find no reference to the battery discharge time. One of my hearing aids has begun to play a little tune intermittently, am I right in thinking that signals "battery low"? Please advise.

    • Hello, yep depending on how long you keep the aids in the batteries last about 1 to 2 weeks. When it needs changing you get the bip sound. They are very easy to change. Good luck

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