Growth in the English NHS Adult Audiology Service

Growth in the English NHS Adult Audiology Service

Current growth in demand for hearing services in England is unsustainable for a purely hospital-based model of care – e.g. in 10 years (2003-2013) activity reported by audiology services increased by 142%+Source:  NCHA analysis of Department of Health reference cost data, yet an estimated 3.8 million people in England still had unmet hearing needs in 20131.

GRAPH 1: GROWTH IN NHS ADULT AUDIOLOGY SERVICE + Reported annual adult audiology activity by NHS hospitals in England 2004-2013 (Source: NCHA analysis of Department of Health reference cost data)

Age-related hearing loss is the single biggest cause of hearing loss and in almost all cases+ Cochlear implants (CIs) can bypass the damaged hair cells of the cochlear and stimulate the vestibulocochlear nerve directly. NICE guidelines on CIs can be found here.  there is no medical or surgical treatment2.  Hearing aids remain the primary intervention for age-related hearing loss3. The chronic nature of age-related hearing loss means people with hearing aids will have to make many visits to their hearing care professional for repairs and batteries over their lifetime. This makes hearing aid repairs the main driver hospital audiology activity in terms of reported numbers of interventions.

GRAPH 2: PERCENTAGE OF ADULT PATIENT VISITS THAT ARE DEVOTED TO REPAIRS+Based on the proportion of repairs to all other activity, divided by the total number of providers reporting data (Source: NCHA analysis of Department of Health reference cost data)

GRAPH 3: REPORTED ANNUAL ADULT AUDIOLOGY HEARING AID REPAIR ACTIVITY+ Source: NCHA analysis of Department of Health reference cost data

GRAPH 4: AVERAGE NUMBER OF PATIENT VISITS FOR HEARING AID REPAIRS PER AUDIOLOGY SERVICE PROVIDER+ Based on the number of reported repairs divided by the total number of providers reporting data (Source: NCHA analysis of Department of Health reference cost data)