Frequently Asked Questions
1) Does my local hospital provide digital
To check if your hospital has joined the modernisation scheme, click your
region on the map. You will see a list
of those hospitals which are currently fitting digital hearing aids for
adults and/or children, and those which are in the process of modernising.
Where a start date is available, it is given.
2) Why is it taking so long to reach my area?
Before new sites can begin to offer improved technology to patients, the
infrastructure and equipment of audiology departments needs to be modernised,
existing staff need to be trained, and in many cases additional staff
need to be recruited. All this takes time and funding, which is why the
Modernised Service cannot be offered in all areas immediately.
3) My local NHS hearing aid service has not yet been
modernised. Is there anything I can do?
Some services want to apply to take part in the modernisation programme
but cannot get the support of their Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). The Department
of Health funds most of the upgrade, but PCTs have to contribute. If this
is the problem in your area you could try to persuade your local MP to
put pressure on the PCT.
4) What is happening in Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland?
In February 2003, the Scottish Executive announced an investment of £8
million over four years to modernise audiology services. This was on top
of the £2.25 million funding that they had already provided to upgrade
audiology equipment. Then in October 2003, a further £9 million
over three years was announced to ensure that hearing services have the
necessary equipment, staff and digital hearing aids. Scotland should have
completed the upgrade by 2007.
The Welsh Executive has provided £2.25 million to help modernise
audiology services and hearing aids throughout Wales. Local funding has
also been provided and all departments are now delivering the new service.
The Northern Ireland Minister pledged £2.5 million to modernise
audiology services by March 2004. This is being used to equip and train
audiology staff and to supply departments with digital hearing aids so
that they can provide these to patients.
5) My hospital doesn't provide digital hearing aids
a) travel to another hospital?
Not normally. In special circumstances, your GP may be able to refer
you to another audiology department.
b) pay towards the cost of the digital
No. The NHS hearing aid service is provided free of charge according
to need. The hearing aids are provided on long term loan to patients,
and remain the property of the NHS. It is against the law for hospitals
to sell NHS hearing aids.
6) My local NHS hearing aid service has been modernised
but I already have a hearing aid – when will I be able to get digital
If you have been given a new hearing aid within the last three years you
will generally not be able to get digital aids yet, unless your hearing
has become significantly worse since then. You should wait to be invited
for an appointment, but do make sure that your hearing aid department
knows your present address.
7) I have had my hearing aid/s for years – what
should I do?
If your hearing aids are old, you should ask to be seen again in any case
– whether your service has been modernised or not. There are much-improved
hearing aids available now. You can contact your hearing aid department
8) I am a War Pensioner. Can I go to the front of the
If you are a war pensioner you will be given priority for hearing aids
if your pension was awarded for deafness resulting from service. This
means that you may be seen more quickly at your clinic but it does not
mean that you are entitled to better hearing aids than other patients
receive. If your local clinic is part of the modernisation project you
will probably be able to try digital hearing aids.
9) What sort of digital hearing aids are available
on the NHS?
Digital hearing aids from several of the world’s leading manufacturers
have been chosen for the programme. These aids are available on the high
street for up to £2,000 each (including service costs), but cost
the NHS a fraction of the retail price because it is making use of its
bulk purchasing power (the NHS is the largest buyer of hearing aids in
the world). These aids are provided free of charge as with traditional
analogue NHS hearing aids. Both moderate-power and high-power digital
hearing aids are available for adults and children. Most are behind-the-ear
style. They are sophisticated aids with features such as directional microphones,
automatic noise reduction, and suppression of feedback (whistling).
Click here for a list of models
currently available on the NHS.
10) Can I get in-the-ear digital hearing aids on the
Not usually, because the in-the-ear models tested as part of the modernisation
were not found to be cost-effective compared with behind-the-ear models.
hearing aid factsheet explains more about the different syles of aid.
The range of aids offered by the NHS will be regularly reviewed, and as
hearing aid technology improves, other styles may become available on
11) What is the new service like?
The new service recognises that – as well as modern, high quality
hearing aids – people need plenty of support, information and advice
so that they can get the best out of their aids and achieve a better quality
So you can expect:
· Audiology staff will spend more time with you to assess your
needs thoroughly and discuss how hearing aids can help
· You will be offered a hearing aid for each ear
if you are likely to benefit more from two than just one
· Your digital hearing aids will be carefully set
up and fine-tuned to suit you and give you the best results
· You will be advised on how to use and care for
your hearing aids and how to get the best benefit from them
· You will also be told about additional services
and equipment that might be useful to you
· You will be invited back to check how you are getting
on, make any further adjustments that are necessary and help with any
problems you are experiencing
· Staff will use questionnaires to record how much
you use your hearing aids, how helpful they are in your everyday life
and how satisfied you are with them.
If you think you need hearing aids - and you have
not had an NHS hearing aid before - you must first go to your GP to be