28th July 2021
Most people get their hearing aids from the NHS. But with a growing number of hearing aid specialists on our high streets, should you choose to pay privately?
The key question is whether there is a significant difference. And does a more recent third option – you go to a private retailer but the NHS pays through 'Any Qualified Provider (AQP)' – offer an opportunity you should take up?
To find out, we surveyed Which? members and other adults who have recently got a hearing aid via the NHS or got hearing aids from a private provider. We grilled them on how things had gone from start to finish, and asked them to rate their experience.
Only logged-in Which? members can view our results in the table below, and also see which high street hearing aid providers are best and worst and how much hearing aids cost. If you're not already a member, you can get instant access by
NHS hearing aids vs privately bought hearing aids
Private (paid for by NHS - AQP)
NHS (hospital or clinic)
Hearing aid appearance
Hearing aid comfort
Hearing aid suitability
Table notes: Scores and ratings are based on the results of an online survey conducted in May 2020 of 1,572 Which? members and other members of the public who had obtained a hearing aid within the previous five years, either via the NHS (and paid for by the NHS) or from a hearing aid retailer (and paid for by the customer) or from a retailer (and paid for by the NHS –sometimes called Any Qualified Provider or AQP). The percentages represent the proportion of people who rated the service as either 'excellent' or 'good'.
Sample sizes: NHS (724), private purchase by customers (624) Any Qualified Provider (220)
If you're considering paying privately, ask yourself these key questions: