Hearing aids: more choice of providers needed for NHS patientsOnly one in 10 currently have a choice
12 March 2015
NHS patients with hearing loss want better choice when it comes to their hearing aid provider, according to Monitor, the health sector regulator for England.
The Monitor report reveals that seven out of 10 people who were offered a choice of hearing aid provider valued this, and eight out of 10 who weren't offered that choice would have wanted it. But only a tenth of patients currently have a say.
To see which hearing aid provider topped our survey of 400 Which? members, head to our review of the best hearing aid providers.
Choosing hearing aid providers
Monitor said that more could be done to make patients aware of the hearing care services available to them, especially as many are interested in being seen closer to home. For example, the Any Qualified Provider (AQP) scheme means that some local NHS hearing services can decide to deliver their services through other organisations - such as private companies or charities - rather than attending an NHS hospital, though there are restrictions.
Which? health expert Joanna Pearl says: 'Increasing choice can only be a good thing as far as hearing loss is concerned, especially if it means that people will be more confident about seeking help earlier.'
With early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss being critical, it's important that people speak to a GP as soon as they suspect they have poor hearing to rule out any underlying causes, even if they're considering buying from a private hearing aid provider. But when Monitor asked 1,200 NHS patients, it found that only one in five people have a discussion with their GP about the different hearing aid providers and other treatments available to them.
Best hearing aid provider
Getting the best hearing aid isn't just to do with the hearing aid itself, it's very much down to the way it's fitted and the service provided.
To find out which are the best and worst hearing aid providers, we surveyed hundreds of Which? members who have bought a hearing aid in the last three years. Five hearing aid providers - Boots Hearing Care, Specsavers, Hearcare, Hidden Hearing and Amplifon - were given customer scores and rated their on products and pricing, staff and customer service, and arrangement and facilities.
The top rated hearing aid provider got 84% and five stars for all measures, but the bottom only achieved 62%, getting two and three star ratings. Find out which is the best hearing aid provider.