What is the NHS AQP Scheme?
The NHS AQP stands for Any Qualified Provider Scheme. It is where, after a GP refers a patient, they can choose from a list of qualified providers who meet NHS service quality requirements, prices and normal contractual obligations.
The NHS AQP scheme has been available since April 2012. It allows accredited high street providers of hearing aids to offer customers free NHS hearing aids as well. The programme's aim is to encourage more people to have their hearing tested. It will also offer a wider choice of healthcare providers to the public that meet the requirements and prices of the NHS. In this way, patients as well as general practitioners will be able to choose from a variety of hospitals or high street providers based on different factors, i.e. proximity, reputation, waiting time, etc.
The whole process adheres to the NHS Constitution and it is free for all patients. The referral stages are no different to requesting help normally through the NHS (As detailed in our blog post Guide to NHS Hearing Aids). You must first visit your GP, who may then direct you to any approved local provider for both a hearing test, fitting of a hearing aid and subsequent support.
Why is the NHS AQP Scheme needed?
Hearing problems are a growing challenge across society. Over nine million people in England live with some form of hearing loss which impacts on their ability to fully participate in society. By 2031, there may be more than 14 million people with hearing impairment in the UK.
On average, it takes 10 years for the sufferer to address the problem. This means that hearing loss needs special attention and widespread service availability to be able to meet the demand and to encompass as many people as possible. In addition, a further idea is that the overall quality and awareness of hearing aid services will be substantially increased. Along with covering the essential NHS services connected to hearing loss, providers are expected to enrich the patient experience and improve quality constantly.
The NHS AQP Scheme also helps those people who find it hard to travel to their local audiology department by providing access to audiology services nearer to home. Sometimes though even this will not be sufficient and this is where Hearing Direct can help by allowing you to test your hearing at home with our free online hearing test and you can also talk to our audiologist immediately.
Does Hearing Direct provide Hearing Aids under NHS AQP?
We are an online only business specialising in affordable Hearing Aids and other Hearing Loss aids. As such we try to minimise our overheads so we can pass the savings directly onto you as the customer. Therefore, we do not currently supply hearing aids under the AQP scheme.
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 may also interest you:
- NHS Hearing Aid Battery Options
- Types of NHS Hearing Aid
- NHS Hearing Aids vs Private Hearing Aids
- How Long is the wait for Hearing Aids?
- NHS Hearing Aid Costs
About Hearing Direct
We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. HearingDirect offers a wide range of affordable products, and information resources to help improve the quality of life for the hard of hearing. We sell:
- Hearing aids,
- Accessories such as earplugs,
- and amplified devices such as super loud alarm clocks and amplified phones.
Author: Joan McKechnie
After qualifying as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist Joan has spent most of her 20 year career in hearing-care related roles. She has a wealth of experience within the hearing aid and hearing rehabilitation fields and has worked in manufacturing environments with two hearing aid companies helping to develop products and roll out new technologies. Joan has been involved with Hearing Direct since its launch and enjoys the online retail environment which seeks to provide easier access to hearing products and accessories. She is HCPC registered. Read Joan's full bio here.