The final report of the independent Commission on Hearing Loss, established by ILC-UK.

For too long, hearing loss has been ignored, overlooked and disregarded despite the millions of people experiencing hearing loss and the devastating consequences that it can have on individuals, their families and society as a whole.This report presents new data to show not only the predicted growth in the number of people with hearing loss, which is set to account for almost 20% of the total population by 2031, but also highlights a £25 billion loss to the UK economy in potential economic output.

The terms of reference for the Commission on Hearing Loss were to consider the extent of the challenges posed by age-related hearing loss in the UK and how it can be tackled. Commissioners, drawn from a wide-range of different background and sectors, were asked to consider a number of critical questions as part of a series of oral evidence sessions:

  • How and to what extent can hearing loss impact on a person’s quality of life?
  • What are the wider implications of hearing loss with regard to social isolation, loneliness and exclusion, employment and extending working life, equal access to health and social care?
  • What are the current barriers which prevent early detection and support of hearing loss?
  • How can we support people to recognise their hearing loss earlier and come forward for help?
  • How can we de-stigmatise hearing loss and the use of hearing aids?
  • How can public and private health and social care providers improve early detection and hearing services?

The Commissioners:
Chair: Baroness Sally Greengross
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive, Action on Hearing Loss
William Brassington, President of the British Academy of Audiology
Peter Ormerod, Boots Hearingcare
Baroness Howe of Idlicote
Rosie Cooper MP, Member of Parliament for West Lancashire

The Commission has made a series of recommendations, including:

  • For attention of NHS England and Department of Health: Government should publish the long awaited Action Plan on hearing loss. But this must be allied to a national commissioning framework and an appropriate NICE quality standard to ensure high quality services are consistently provided, developed in consultation with patient groups, individuals and professionals – representing the public, private and third sector.
  • For the attention of Public Health England: We must focus efforts on earlier detection of hearing loss through the delivery of a nation-wide screening programme.
  • For the attention of Department of Health: We must consider opening up hearing services so that people can self-refer. This will increase accessibility and reduce the likelihood of people falling through the net.
  • For the attention of Clinical Commissioning Groups: There must be enough flexibility in the hearing assessment, follow-up and aftercare to ensure that it matches peoples’ preferences. This may include an expansion of community-based hearing care as well as home visits.
  • For the attention of NHS England, the Department of Health and providers: Timely follow-up and accessible aftercare must become routine in all instances across the UK to ensure appropriate outcomes are met.

A copy of the report is available to download below.

For a full report of evidence submitted to the Commission, please click here (opens pdf).

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