Feb 11th 2013

The very latest digital hearing aids available from the NHS in Sandwell and Birmingham – for free

With recent changes in government rules, patients with hearing loss can now choose to get their free hearing aids from private sector companies. We know that you would prefer your patients to go to a trusted, quality NHS organisation, such as Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

Under the Any Qualified Provider (AQP) scheme, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBHT) now offers free hearing tests and aids to people across the Midlands. Patients from Sandwell, Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Walsall or Worcestershire can now have their free assessments and up to date, digital hearing aids from SWBHT, as long as they are aged 55 or over and have been referred by their GP due to age related hearing loss. SWBHT is the most experienced provider in this field in the locality, having delivered these services for over 50 years.

Patients don’t even need to go to hospital for their free hearing test and hearing aid fitting, as hearing aid services are provided at a number of convenient locations, including Boldmere Hearing Clinic in Sutton Coldfield, Neptune Health Park in Tipton, the Apollo Surgery in Great Barr and the Lyng Centre in West Bromwich, as well as City and Rowley Regis Hospitals.

All hearing tests are carried out by a fully qualified audiologist, and take only 20 minutes. Results are given straight away, and if this shows that the patient would benefit from a hearing aid, these are supplied and fitted free of charge. Patients are also shown how to use and care for their hearing aid, and how to get replacement batteries.

The service can also arrange for patients to be referred to an ENT consultant and other specialist audiology services, such as tinnitus and balance services, and even relaxation classes. The September 2012 patient survey showed that 100% of responders would recommend SWBHT’s hearing service to friends and family.

The NHS has significantly improved the hearing aid technology available to patients. SWBHT now provides small, comfortable, digital hearing aids which fit discreetly behind the ear. The hearing aids offer a choice of programmes for different listening situations, such as background noise in a restaurant. The hearing aids also digitally suppress feedback (whistling), which can be so troublesome.

The private sector can now provide hearing aid services to this population, but they do not have the broad range of services or audiology professionals currently available through the NHS. The range of hearing aids provided are identical to those provided by the NHS for many years.

SWBHT audiologists select and fit hearing aids using real ear measurements on the patient’s ear, ensuring the most precise amplification for each individual based on their hearing loss, as recommended by the British Society of Audiology.

Your hearing loss patients deserve the very best audiology service, so discuss Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust with them before you book their appointment with us. If you would like us to come to see you or your CCG to talk about SWBHT’s hearing services, or you would like free leaflets to give to your patients or to display, please call 0121 507 5960 or email sarahmillard@nhs.net.

For more information, go to www.swbh.nhs.uk/services/audiology/.

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