MP urges health chiefs to rethink cost-cutting plans to cut free hearing aids

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20 Jun 2014

Health chiefs in North Staffordshire have been urged to reconsider their plans to cut funding for the provision of hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly warned that the cost-cutting proposals could leave vulnerable people socially isolated and facing an increased risk of dementia.

He made his comments in a letter to the North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which is proposing to introduce the cut in provision as part of a ‘prioritisation’ exercise.

Under the proposals, people classed as ‘hard-of-hearing’ would have to wait until they had ‘severe’ hearing loss to qualify for the devices, but Mr Farrelly said that this would undermine the self-confidence and quality of life of those affected and end up costing the NHS much more.

“Studies have shown that people who do not have hearing aids go on to suffer social isolation, accompanied, to a significant extent, by the onset of dementia,” Mr Farrelly said.

“It is the early diagnosis of hearing impairment and the early provision of hearing aids that is crucial to the delay or prevention of these conditions, with all that this entails for the individuals themselves and the NHS.”

In his letter, Mr Farrelly has asked the CCG for a copy of its prioritisation process, an assessment of the number of people who would be affected and the costs they would face in buying a hearing aid themselves.

“Ending the provision of free aids as you propose will clearly be detrimental both to my constituents and to the NHS generally and I would, therefore, urge you to reconsider your decision,” he added.