The charity, which supports and campaigns for people with dual sensory loss, has expressed serious concerns regarding the decision to restrict NHS funded hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate adult-onset hearing loss.
Sue Brown, Head of Public Policy at Sense said:
“We are concerned that North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has failed to recognise the importance of hearing aids to those who also have some sight loss.
“Whilst the CCG has specified that those with ‘severe multiple sensory disability’ are exempt from these restrictions, there are many people, particularly older people, who won’t fulfil this criteria and will still have a level of sight loss that, when combined with their hearing loss, will have a significant impact on their lives.
“We know that many audiology services are under severe pressure from spending cuts and increasing demand for services, however, the subsequent impact of unmanaged and unsupported hearing loss can be significant and detrimental to individual’s health, quality of life and overall well-being.
“With increasing numbers of older people developing hearing and vision loss it is vital that commissioners release enough funds to enable audiology services to respond to changing population needs. Cuts to hearing aid provision are simply not cost effective, they reduce the quality of life for patients and lead to increased demand and cost for NHS and social care services in the long term.”
Sense research shows that 94% of people with dual sensory loss wear their hearing aids all of the time. For many, hearing aids are vital for social contact and conversation; without them they can become increasingly isolated and lonely which has been found to cause a significant detriment to health, including increased risks of blood pressure, dementia, depression and even suicide.