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NCHA responds to Lords review of the NHS

The National Community Hearing Association has told the House of Lords that hearing loss is a major public health challenge.  In its response to the Lords’ Committee on the Long-term sustainability of the NHS the Association reminded the Committee that the Department of Health and NHS England’s Action Plan on Hearing Loss (2015), Monitor’s review of choice in adult hearing care (2015) and NHS England’s National Commissioning Framework for hearing services (2016) all explain that addressing unmet hearing need is a public health priority.

Yet, says the NCHA, despite these publications in recent years, little has changed, and unless barriers – specifically the lack of accountability and transparency – are addressed, it is unlikely the NHS will be able to deliver on its promises in the Five Year Forward View to radically upgrade its approach to public health.

The Association’s written submission highlighted three areas for action:

Delivering more care out of hospital has been a policy goal since the 1980s, but one that experts accept the NHS has failed to deliver.  NHS leadership must now shift services that do not have to be delivered in hospitals into community-based settings – e.g. today hospitals report doing more than 1.1 million hearing aid repairs each year, this is not an efficient use of hospital capacity. With finite capacity in hospitals, failure to act will result in an unsustainable health and care system much sooner than 2030. Take preventative and public health seriously. Helping the population to age well should be the main priority. Policy documents from 2007 and 2014 state the importance of preventative and public health, but as the Five Year Forward View makes clear the NHS has not delivered on these pledges and is now “on the hook” because of this. Commissioners should be required to demonstrate what preventative and public health interventions they are focussing on, and be challenged if they fail to act. Hold system leaders to account and increase transparency. It is important to hold system leaders, both at a national and local level, to account when scarce resources are wasted. The adult hearing service provides one example of how despite a national review and guidance, NHS commissioners across England continue to spend over 25% more than they have to. This is only possible due to a lack of transparency and accountability in the system. You can read the NCHA’s full submission here: Link to Parliamentary Website

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