On 1 October 2015 North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) brought into force its policy to end hearing aid provision for people with mild hearing loss and to severely restrict access to hearing aids for people with moderate hearing loss, becoming the first ever area in England to ration free NHS hearing aids since the inception of the NHS.
Deaf charity Action on Hearing Loss has campaigned against the rationing of hearing aid services in North Staffordshire, including the co-ordination of a petition signed by over 5,500 Staffordshire residents demanding they reverse the cuts.
Yesterday, the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee voted unanimously to refer the policy to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health. This follows comments he made last month to the House of Commons Health Committee that:
“When we hear evidence of rationing happening, we do something about it. It is very challenging on the frontline now for everyone, but we are very clear that the principle of the NHS is a service that is free at the point of use, and we are absolutely determined to give people the clinical care that they need.”
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss says:
‘Action on Hearing Loss is delighted that the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee, which met today to consider and provide views on the hearing aid policy for the North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, voted unanimously to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health.
‘People with hearing loss tell us that hearing aids are their lifeline; they are a highly cost-effective intervention with very clear clinical benefits. Hearing aids have been available on the NHS since 1948 and they are accepted to be the only viable treatment for people with mild hearing loss.
‘We have been fighting against these baffling and unprecedented cuts since the policy was first considered by the North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in 2014, and today’s decision clearly shows the strength of local opposition from elected councillors in the North Staffordshire area. As a charity we will continue to campaign to over-turn the decision.’
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