Nhs Vs Private Hearing Aid Providers
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 ‘ 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.
Waiting Times For Nhs Hearing Aids Vs Private Hearing Aids From The Hearing Care Partnership
Whilst the NHS are reducing their waiting times, you may still wait up to 12 weeks for your NHS hearing aids to be fitted. Once they have been fitted, they must be checked to ensure theyre well adjusted, which may take several months and the sooner you have your hearing aids fitted, the sooner you can start living life to the full.
If you do require hearing aids following your Full Hearing Assessment at The Hearing Care Partnership, your Audiologist can usually fit them within two weeks, or depending on the style, sometimes even the same day. This is followed up within 24 hours and again within a week to find out how you are getting on with your new hearing aids. As part of your hearing aid purchase, we offer aftercare at any time. We recommend that your ears and hearing aids are checked every six months to keep your hearing healthy and your hearing aids fine-tuned. We also check your ears for wax during this time, which will be removed free of charge if they become congested. This prevents wax build up from affecting your hearing and the performance of your hearing aids. We also offer regular cleaning, monitoring and adjustments to ensure that you are getting the clearest and most natural sound.
Nhs Hearing Aids Vs Private Providers
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 joining Which? today.
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High Street Hearing Aid Options
Many high street specialists sell hearing aids as well. When you book an appointment with a high street store, a professional hearing aid dispenser will test your hearing. They will recommend which hearing aid will best suit your needs. These stores have high overheads and therefore the cost is generally higher than buying online. You can end up paying considerably more for a hearing aid you can get through the NHS or throughHearing Direct.
Do You Know The Difference
There are many aspects to consider between NHS and private hearing care and systems and hearing care.
Among the most important ones are: Waiting times Continued Care Costs
Digital hearing instruments can make a real difference in the quality of life for people that are struggling with their hearing, but choosing whether to get a hearing aid through the NHS, or privately, is a difficult decision.
You can book an appointment to see a hearing specialist for a private hearing test, which consists of a full evaluation of your hearing and ear health, at both our hearing aid centre in Worcester and our Stratford Hearing Centre. You will be shown the inside of your ear on a video otoscope, a pure tone audiogram will be performed to show the hearing thresholds and then a speech in noise test to establish a level of real world effective hearing.
During this consultation the audiologist will explain the difference between NHS or private hearing care and answer all your questions.
Director of Audiology, Tom Dixon says We offer bespoke hearing solutions for each person that comes into our practice, no two people are the same. Therefore, no two cases of hearing loss are the same. That is why we dont provide anything off the shelf. The most important part of a patients journey to better hearing isnt just fitting the hearing systems, it is the continued care and support so they can improve and enjoy their life.
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How Can I Be Tested For Hearing Loss
If youve recently noticed problems with your hearing, the first step is to talk to your doctor and explain how these problems are affecting your day to day life.
Your doctor can carry out some basic tests to check for temporary, treatable ear problems, such as a build-up of ear wax or an ear infection. Your doctor will have a look into your ears using a medical instrument with a light at one end.
If there is no obvious cause of hearing loss, your doctor can refer you for a hearing assessment with an audiologist or an ear nose and throat specialist. They will look into your ears and test your hearing to see how well you can detect different levels of sound. This assessment will help find the cause of your hearing loss and what treatments would work best.
Your hearing assessment will indicate if a hearing aid would help you and which type would work best for you.
Evolution Of Hearing Aid Applications
There are audio players designed specifically for the hard-of-hearing. These applications amplify the volume of the reproduced audio signal in accordance with users hearing characteristics and acts as music volume amplifier and assistive hearing aid. The amplification algorithm works on the frequencies that the user hears worse, thus restoring natural hearing perception of the sound of music.
Just as in hearing aid application, the player adjustment is based on the users audiogram
There are also applications that do not only adapt the sound of music to the users hearing but also include some hearing aid functions. Such types of applications include sound amplification mode in accordance with the users hearing characteristics as well as noise suppression mode and the mode allowing to hear the surrounding sounds without pausing the music.
Also, some applications allow the hard-of-hearing watching the video and listening to the radio with comfort. Operational principles of these applications are similar to hearing aid application operational principles: the audio signal is amplified on the frequencies that the user hears worse.
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Waiting Times For Nhs Hearing Services Compared To Private
Most private companies can deliver your hearing aids within 10 days. And some, like us, can fit them on the spot right after your hearing assessment.
This means that in well under two weeks of contacting us, one of our expert audiologists could have already visited you, assessed you, and programmed and moulded your custom hearing aids.
Waiting times are longer on the NHS.
According to hearing aid waiting time data from NHS England, the longest anyone had to wait between being seen by a GP and getting their hearing aids is 18 weeks. This data, it should be noted, was taken before the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some important takeaways from the NHS England data:
- Only 5% of NHS patients waited 18 weeks. Most people did not have to wait that long
- The average waiting time overall was 3.5 weeks
- People in the South West waited for the longest, and people in the North West had the shortest waiting time
Its worth remembering that referral waiting times to see a GP are long. So you would have to add the time it takes to see a doctor on top of the potential 18-week wait.
Here are the waiting times for digital hearing aids in the rest of the Home Nations:
How Do I Use The Loop System
When activated, the loop or telecoil setting on your hearing aid should make it easier to hear in public places, e.g. train station, bank, post office, church, theatre or cinema. Look out for the symbol with a T in the bottom right corner.
To use the loop system you will need to select the loop program in your hearing aids details of how to do this in your specific hearing aid can be found in the manufacturers leaflet.
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When You Have To Pay For Nhs Hearing Aids Even If Theyre Free
If you have NHS hearing aids, the NHS will replace them for free. But only if theyre at the end of their life cycle or if theyve just naturally broken due to normal wear and tear.
You will have to pay for your NHS hearing aids if they are damaged or lost due to negligence. Therefore, we advise that you take out hearing aid insurance even if youre sticking with the NHS.
Comparing The Features Across Nhs And Private Hearing Aids
You wont have much choice in the type of hearing aid the NHS gives you. But the model youll get will usually be good and modern. But as there isnt a whole lot of choice in the first place, this means you could miss out on many of the state-of-the-art features.
This could result in limitations to your hearing ability and connectivity. And connectivity is important. Some of the benefits of improved technology and connectivity include:
- A much larger number of channels for sound processing and compression
- More microphones so that you can focus your listening
- Speech recognition to enhance conversations
- Automatic fine-tuning whenever you move into a new environment
- More brand choices, which may have features that you enjoy more than other brands
- Smartphone and app-inclusivity, and other wireless features
The better the technology, the easier it will be for you and your brain to receive and process information. Which will make things easier for you, less tiring, and may even have long-term health benefits.
So are private hearing aids better than NHS ones? Well, thats for you to decide. The NHS will give you a modern pair of hearing aids that should help out. But there are lots more choices privately that could improve your situation in many other ways, both cosmetically and in how they operate.
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Uk Nhs Aids Vs Private
This is one for the UK based folk on here.
Can anyone explain up what the deal is with NHS aids in terms of their ability/technology? A friend of a friend works for the RNID and claims NHS aids are very good and shouldnt be discounted. Equally anyone within the NHS highly recommends them and tries to dissuade going private, which is less surprising.
Is there an easy way to compare them to whats available privately? Are they good to have as a backup, but if you really want smaller, or more advanced aids then go private?
Would be interested in peoples opinions on this.
Both are to some extent vested interests: as am I.
Trying the NHS is always worth it, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you get, the service, the aftercare and the ability to get adjustments made etc.
The problem is that it seems like even the Government has recognised that the experience isnt universally happy or appropriate for everybody, which is why they are introducing an Any Qualified Provider service in the next year or so: the aim of which is to provide more accessible hearing healthcare on the high-street from your local independent and national chains.
Healthcare is devolved here, so Im not going to be part of the process, but it will mean you will be able to get a basic hearing aids over the counter in the high street free at the point of service.
I am just a hearing wearer and can only comment on my own experiences.
Zerena 9 Minirite Hearing Aid
The minRITE is a small receiver in the ear hearing aid that is suitable for hearing losses from the mild to severe. It can use four different speakers which means it is suitable for most hearing losses. As with the rest of the range, it has twin radios, one which is a Bluetooth radio and the other which is a proprietary Bernafon radio.
The Bluetooth radio makes these hearing aids Made For iPhone, the proprietary radio is used for communication between the hearing aids which ensures settings and features are co-ordinated and act in a more effective manner. The hearing aid works on a 312 battery and it comes with a programme button.
from £1700.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from 2400.00 to 3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $2400.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.
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Does It All Just Come Down To Cost
The biggest factor undoubtedly when thinking about hearing aids NHS or private is cost. NHS hearing aids are free. Private hearing aids can cost anywhere from £995 and upwards.
But there are lots of free services that you can access privately. Such as:
Free hearing tests
1 years worth of hearing aid batteries for free
A premium aftercare service
People who go down the private route often also feel like the experience is more personable and that they feel less like a number. Knowing that a healthcare professional will look after you every step of the way can also be a comfort that makes the cost of private hearing aid dispensers worth it.
The Cost Of Nhs Hearing Care Compared To The Hearing Care Partnership
The factor that most people consider when deciding which hearing care provider to opt for is the cost of the treatment. NHS hearing care is completely free including follow-up appointments and aftercare, however the number of services and solutions are limited.
At The Hearing Care Partnership, your Full Hearing Assessment is FREE, which includes a comprehensive evaluation of your hearing and speech and an in-depth discussion regarding your specific and personal hearing and lifestyle requirements.
We also provide FREE follow-up appointments and unlimited aftercare, allowing you to rest in the knowledge that youll be looked after every step of the way. Alongside our advanced diagnostic hearing assessment, we provide FREE Tinnitus Consultations and home visit appointments at no extra cost. At The Hearing Care Partnership you will always be offered the highest quality individual patient care across all of our services.
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Even If You Want Private Hearing Aids There Are Still Good Reasons To Go To The Nhs First
There are two reasons why you should do this:
But for some people, their hearing loss is so problematic that they do not want to wait around. NHS hearing test waiting times can be as long as 18 weeks, but not always. Sometimes the waiting times are much shorter.
Hearing Aids: Is Going Private Really Better Than The Nhs
A hi-tech device could set you back £5,000, while NHS models are good and free
When Alan Wright* decided to take the plunge and spend £2,800 on new hearing aids, he thought he was buying a significant upgrade on his old NHS-provided models.
The 70-year-old, who had largely given up going to the theatre and other similar activities due to being quite deaf in one ear, hoped that by spending the money he would be able to start going out again.
But instead of a new freedom, he and his wife Angela say they have endured 18 months of frustration as the hearing aids spent more time at the Specsavers hearing centre in Solihull than in his ears. In the end the couple became so disillusioned with the Widex aids that they demanded their money back.
It was a lot of money but we thought it would be worth it to improve his quality of life, says Angela. After 18 months of repeatedly having to return the aids, which would only work for a short time, he has now gone back to using his NHS version. We now wish we had saved our money.
The couple may have just been unlucky and, after Guardian Money intervened, Specsavers refunded the couple in full. It repeated its view that neither it, nor the manufacturer, could find any problems with Wrights hearing aids.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of services, says it is important to note that the NHS buys its digital hearing aids from the same manufacturers as private providers.
* Alan and Angela Wright are not their real names.
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Hearing Aids On The Nhs
Hearing aids are available on the NHS.
Your GP can refer you to an NHS hearing aid provider if they think you might need a hearing aid.
The benefits of getting a hearing aid on the NHS include:
- hearing aids are provided for free as a long-term loan
- batteries and repairs are free
- you do not have to pay for any follow-up appointments or aftercare
But while several modern hearing aids are available on the NHS, these are usually the BTE or, very occasionally, the RITE type. You may need to pay for private treatment if you want one of the other types.
The waiting time for getting a hearing aid on the NHS can sometimes be longer than the wait for private treatment.