NCHA’s Friday roundup – sector news – 7 August

NCHA’s Friday roundup – sector news - 7 August
  • 7
    Aug

NCHA’s Friday roundup – sector news – 7 August

This week’s news 

1. NHS England confirms the restoration of community services
2. Manchester reports hearing loss in discharged COVID-19 patients
3. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission
4. Adult hearing screening review
5. Face coverings update
6. EUHA 2020 goes online 
 

 

1. NHS England confirms the restoration of community services 

We reported last week how many providers were still waiting for NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE-I) to publish their updated prioritisation guidance for adult audiology services. 

Today, 7 August, NHSE-I has removed the table which placed a ‘partial stop’ on adult audiology services and replaced it with a document setting out the restoration of community health services. The document states: 

  • “This guidance on the restoration of adult and older people’s community health services supersedes the prioritisation guidance for community health services first published on 20 March 2020 and updated on 2 April 2020, which is withdrawn.

    “All the service areas listed in the 20 March 2020 and 2 April 2020 guidance should now be fully reinstated, including where needed home visits for vulnerable adults, subject to appropriate infection control protections in line with Public Health England advice, and any other relevant NHS England guidance.”

This means that all NHS adult audiology services can now resume, subject to infection prevention and control measures. 

Late last week NHSE-I wrote to commissioners and providers advising them to use this period to accelerate a “return to near-normal levels of non-Covid health services, making full use of the capacity available in the ‘window of opportunity’ between now and winter”. Read the full letter. However, the prioritisation guidance for community health services still had ‘partial stop’ in place for adult audiology. In the light of this, the NCHA and ENT UK continued work with NHSE-I to rectify this. We are pleased that NHSE-I has responded positively by updating its guidance and nullifying the April table for adults and older people. This will now enable providers to address the unnecessary postcode lottery that had emerged across England.  

 

2. Manchester reports hearing loss in discharged COVID-19 patients 

A survey-based study which questioned patients eight weeks after they were discharged for Covid-19 has found that a significant number reported deterioration in their hearing. The study, supported by NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, surveyed 121 adults admitted to one hospital site in Manchester. 

Thirteen per cent of adults (N=16) reported their hearing was worse and others reported they had tinnitus. Read more.    

 

3. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission 

In a follow-up study, the Lancet Commission adds three new modifiable risk factors for dementia – excessive alcohol consumption, head injury, and air pollution – to its 2017 findings. In 2017 the Commission identified hearing loss as a major modifiable risk factor for dementia in adults and in this follow-up paper recommends policymakers “encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protection of ears from excessive noise exposure.” Read more.    

 

4. Adult hearing screening review 
The UK National Screening Committee (NSC) is once again reviewing the recommendation to introduce a national screening programme for hearing loss in adults. 
This routine NSC review includes an analysis of current evidence which still shows there is insufficient evidence to warrant introducing a new screening programme. The NSC therefore recommends not introducing one at this stage. It is now consulting on the recommendation. 
The NCHA will review the evidence and respond on behalf of community audiology. If you have any feedback you can send this to us by email at [email protected] by 16 October. Alternatively you can also respond to the consultation directly by registering as a stakeholder.  

 

5. Face coverings update 

Due to an increase in the rate of Covid-19 infections in Northern Ireland, wearing face coverings will be mandatory in shops from Monday 10 August, 10 days earlier than originally planned. We are still awaiting confirmation if this will apply to audiology practices, but at this stage we advise members to plan on the assumption that it will apply. Read more.

In Scotland face coverings are mandatory in shops unless there is an exemption. Although the law on the requirement to wear a face covering does not explicitly mention audiology practices, it is our understanding that the Scottish government would expect face coverings to be used in audiology practices unless an individual is exempt. Read more

In England the legislation for the use of face coverings in shops expressly excludes health premises such as audiology practices from the requirement to wear them. Part 2 of the regulations lists the exemptions. 

At this stage we are still awaiting confirmation on the use of face coverings in retail premises in Wales.  

 

6. EUHA 2020 goes online 

EUHA 2020, which was originally cancelled due to the pandemic, will now go ahead for free online. The conference, running from 9 October to 8 November, will feature online education, keynote presentations and product launches. Read more.