Private hearing aids or NHS?

by | Feb 6, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Deciding to get help with your hearing is often a big step to take, typically following a number of years of ‘not doing’ anything about it. For someone who knows nothing about hearing loss, hearcare and the provision of hearing services, it can be daunting to know who to go to for advice.

Having gained many years’ experience in both the NHS, teaching Audiology to degree students, and in the private provision of hearing aids, our Clinical Director, Paul, is expertly placed to demystify the provision of hearing aids and the provision of them.

Differences between private hearing aids and NHS provision

There are two key aspects when it comes to hearing aid provision that differ in private practice and the NHS. These are the range of devices available and the service provided.

Range of devices

The range of hearing aids available includes manufacturers, styles, and performance level. If we think of cars as an example, there are different manufacturers (e.g., Mazda, VW) and different styles (e.g., hatchback, coupe) and also different technology levels or performance levels (e.g., Basic, Sports Edition, Special Edition).

For hearing aids, there are also different manufacturers (e.g., Phonak, Oticon, Widex), different styles (e.g., Behind-the- ear (BTE), In-the-ear (ITE), Completely in the Canal (CIC)) and different performance levels (e.g., Essential, Advanced, Premium).

The NHS has limited access to a limited range of manufacturers. In terms of style, again the range is limited, and there are certain styles of discreet hearing aids which are not provided by the NHS. In terms of performance level, again the NHS is limited. The latest performance levels and functionality levels are kept for the private hearing aid market and typically the NHS uses technology that is a few years old.

The differences between the performance levels are typically features of the hearing aids which improve listening experience, listening comfort, Bluetooth connectivity and improved ability to hear speech in noise.

Service provided

The second aspect which differs is the service provided. The NHS provides a 3-year hearing care package, either through the traditional NHS Audiology service, usually based in a hospital, or with partners like Specsavers and Scrivens, who are national chains of hearing aid providers.

This means that one of the NHS providers will take on the care of a person’s hearing aid provision for 3 years, which includes batteries, repairs, faults, and any other issues. Hearing tests are usually not repeated until the end of this 3-year period and this often requires a re-referral by the GP. Many NHS hearing aid users don’t have their hearing checked for longer than this.

Typically, faults and repairs can take weeks to get sorted and if earwax is a problem, this often can take many weeks if not months to get a GP referral for earwax removal.

Furthermore, the audiologist providing the hearing aid care, is often different, each time the person visits the hearing provider. This is often frustrating for the audiologist as well as the client, as there is no feeling of continuity of care.

 The benefits of personalised care

Hearing technology has vastly improved over recent years, with hearing aids using artificial intelligence (AI), directional microphones, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all to greatly improve the listening experience of someone with a hearing loss. That said, as technology has become more advanced and complex, and as fitting hearing aids becomes more individualised, the importance of a good audiologist – client relationship, cannot be over emphasised.

Any experienced audiologist will tell you that a pair of expensive private hearing aids, poorly fit and adapted for the user, will not lead to great outcomes for that client. Think of buying an expensive road racing bike. The latest frame, the latest gears, wheels etc. But, if the bike isn’t set up correctly for the rider, the benefit of such an expensive bike will be lost. Better to have a less expensive bike but set up correctly for the rider’s height, arm length etc.

In order to get the maximum benefit from private or NHS hearing aids, there has to be enough time to firstly explore the unique listening needs of every individual, and then to choose, trial, set up, and re-tune hearing devices.

This often requires several visits and enough time during each visit, to enable the audiologist to do their job. Unfortunately, the NHS does not have this time. Hearing aid fittings are often done on the same day as the hearing test, with a telephone follow-up arranged as the only aftercare. For some people, with undemanding listening needs, this works well, however for people with varied listening needs, who really want to get to know their hearing devices and what they are capable of, the NHS just cannot offer enough time.

The benefits of private hearing aids

  • Personalised service
  • Wide variety of manufacturers, hearing aid styles and performance levels
  • More cosmetic options for hearing aids
  • Better connectivity to electronic devices such as smart phones, television, PCs and music systems
  • No delays for appointments
  • Local practice in the community
  • Longer times for appointments
  • Earwax removal often included in the hearing care package
  • Building of relationship with audiologist
  • Regular hearing tests

Private hearing aids at The Hearing Space

First of all, we offer a relaxed, friendly environment, in a quiet setting, removed from the hustle and bustle of busy NHS departments. Our Clinical Director, Paul , has the highest level of Education in Audiology, and is always looking for ways to improve the end results of fitting private hearing aids. A lengthy initial consultation will often result in a short trial of one or two different hearing devices. We offer the full range of hearing aid manufacturers which allows us to choose the most appropriate device and style for your specific needs. We also offer a range of performance levels. We will take the necessary time to explore which devices might be the most suitable for you. This will typically depend on a variety of factors, e.g., level of hearing loss, listening needs, anatomy of your ears, your manual dexterity, connectivity requirements etc.

After this initial consultation and trial, if you are happy, an agreement to purchase a hearing care package will be made, which will typically be for a 2 or 4 year period. Although providing audiology services to West Yorkshire and beyond, Paul is keen to develop close working relationships with hearing impaired clients living or working in Leeds and surrounding areas. This allows ‘The Hearing Space’ to provide a rapid response to any issues which arise with hearing aid use, which are typically resolved, if not that day, then within the space of a week.

Once we have agreed on a particular device, we will arrange a detailed hearing aid fitting appointment, with a 2-week follow up appointment, and then regular follow ups, throughout the year. Earwax removal is included in the price and regular hearing tests are also included. These are crucial, as if your hearing changes, the hearing aids can be rapidly re-tuned to optimise performance.

To book an initial hearing consultation or simply to chat about your hearing, please contact ‘The Hearing Space’.

Tel: 0113 8730444 | M: 07999 738588 | E:

Book an appointment with our audiologist