Only 41 per cent of NHS audiology departments give tinnitus sufferers access to four key services needed to help manage their condition, according to a new report from charity Action on Hearing Loss launched to mark Tinnitus Awareness Week (2 – 8 February).
One in 10 people in the UK are affected by everyday tinnitus – ranging from a light buzzing to a constant roar in the ears and head – with 600,000 seriously affected by the condition, which can have a detrimental effect on quality of life- from anxiety to difficulties socialising or concentrating at work and problems sleeping.
Freedom of Information requests, issued by the charity to every NHS adult audiology provider across the UK, reveals a postcode lottery of care for tinnitus patients with six audiology units not providing any tinnitus services at all and a further nine units having had to reduce services over the past two years.
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive of the UK’s largest hearing loss charity, Action on Hearing Loss, said:
‘Tinnitus can be a torturous condition, so it’s deeply concerning that millions of patients do not have access to effective support services. NHS audiology and tinnitus provision must be protected, as short-term savings will only lead to higher NHS and social care costs in the long run. We need governments and commissioners to develop a forward-thinking plan that will enable frontline staff to deliver every patient the advice and support that they have the right to expect from our NHS.’
The charity’s report shows little over half of providers (56%) offer access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is one of the most effective tinnitus treatments available and Department of Health recommended. However the majority of audiology departments (77%) do deliver essential services such as information about products, specialist support and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
Action on Hearing Loss provides free support and information for people with tinnitus through the Tinnitus Information Line, 0808 808 6666, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or a family member have been affected by hearing loss as a result of your occupation, contact us today on Freephone 0800 294 3065, or talk to us on live chat where we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.