Tinnitus Service in Harrow and Brent Closed without Consultation

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The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), the only UK charity solely dedicated to supporting those with tinnitus, has identified that hearing therapy services provided by the NHS Trust in Harrow and Brent, which were providing tinnitus counselling and tinnitus masking products, have been closed without consultation.

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This news is deeply upsetting and the impact of this decision is far-reaching. People who experience tinnitus in any of the affected boroughs are being failed by the NHS since they are not being offered hearing therapy.

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), the only UK charity solely dedicated to supporting those with tinnitus, has identified that hearing therapy services provided by the NHS Trust in Harrow and Brent, which were providing tinnitus counselling and tinnitus masking products, have been closed without consultation.

As a result, thousands of people based in these areas who experience tinnitus - a condition which is experienced by 10% of the UK population – now are, or will be, without access to an NHS evidence-based treatment plan and are facing the prospect of being left without the professional healthcare assistance long term.

The hearing therapy services offered at The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust was withdrawn after the North West London Commissioning Partnership apparently refused funding.

David Stockdale, CEO of the British Tinnitus Association, which provides free support and advice for those who experience tinnitus, said: “This news is deeply upsetting and the impact of this decision is far-reaching. People who experience tinnitus in any of the affected boroughs are being failed by the NHS since they are not being offered hearing therapy which could potentially alleviate their distressing and often debilitating experience of tinnitus. The Department of Health’s own ‘Provision of services for adults with tinnitus: a good practice guide?’ seems to have been thoroughly ignored.”

Although patients will still be provided with a hearing assessment by the Trusts, and if hearing loss is identified a hearing aid is likely to be fitted, there is now no hearing therapy service to which tinnitus patients can be referred. The knock-on effect of the funding decision will also be felt by GPs in these areas who will now need to provide a greater level of service for those with hearing therapy requirements.

The British Tinnitus Association received a copy of a letter sent from The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust to tinnitus patients recently, indicating that the service was no longer available. In that letter, patients were urged to return to their GP for a referral to an alternative Trust who may be offering assessments since “North West London Commissioning Partnership will not agree to fund this procedure at North West London Hospitals NHS Trust.”

The charity understands that because the commissioners have declined funding for that activity, BTA members cannot access the service that was recommended to them, as no neighbouring provider is likely to deliver this for free.

Ends

Editors Notes
The BTA is an independent charity which supports thousands of people who experience tinnitus and advises medical professionals from across the world.

The British Tinnitus Association strives to be the primary source of support and information for people with tinnitus in the UK, thereby facilitating an improved quality of life. It aims to encourage prevention through its educational programme and to seek a cure for permanent head noise through a medical research programme.

Not an illness or disease, tinnitus is a term that describes the sensation of hearing a noise in the absence of an external sound. The noise can have virtually any quality. Ringing, whistling, and buzzing are common, but more complex sounds may also be reported. Troublesome tinnitus can be very distressing for the affected individual, and issues may arise with sleep, concentration and mood. However, in many cases, subtle changes in people’s environment can address these issues, and improve quality of life.

The experienced team at the BTA understands the impact that tinnitus can have on the lives of those who experience tinnitus and those who live with them, so seeks to provides the most appropriate and expert advice and information free of charge – via a confidential freephone helpline on 0800 018 0527 and online at http://www.tinnitus.org.uk. The BTA can also post printed and audio information and advice.

Visit the BTA’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BritishTinnitusAssociation and follow the BTA on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BritishTinnitus

For more information
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