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The national charity Action on Hearing Loss is urging UK’s health leaders to do more to better support people in addressing their hearing loss sooner.
The charity’s appeal comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) launches a new report Action for Hearing Loss: Make a Sound Investment. The report reveals that the global cost of unaddressed hearing loss is £750 billion annually.
An event marking World Hearing Day is being held by NHS England to celebrate some of the achievements made since its Action Plan on Hearing Loss was launched in 2015. This includes the production of a Commissioning Framework for adult hearing loss services, which supports commissioners to ensure services meet the needs of people with hearing loss, guidance for employers, care homes and educators, and guidance for Health and Wellbeing Boards.
Paul Breckell, chief executive at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Huge progress has been made since NHS England launched the Action Plan on Hearing Loss in 2015, including the Commissioning Framework for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which is providing proper guidance that is already making a tangible difference across the country.
“However, there is more to do. The WHO figures clearly demonstrate the urgent need to tackle unaddressed hearing loss. Whether it’s through a diminished access to employment – for instance, it is estimated that in 2013 hearing loss related unemployment cost the UK £24.8 billion – social isolation or increased risk of developing mental health conditions, the costs of people not seeking help for their hearing loss are enormous and there needs to be sustained engagement from NHS England and other relevant government departments to ensure the situation improves.”
He continued: “We’d like to see the Action Plan’s momentum built on and used to actively encourage people to address their hearing loss and ensure access to services. Currently, it takes people roughly ten years before they take action; this needs to change and we look forward to working with the NHS to help this happen.”