Location: Northern Ireland
Audiologists and other NHS healthcare workers need to do more to help tackle the growing problem of unaddressed hearing loss among people in the UK.
This call came from the charity Action on Hearing Loss to coincide with World Hearing Day earlier this month (March 3rd) as it encouraged people to seek help for hearing loss as early as possible to reduce their chances of going completely deaf.
According to a new report from the World Health Organization, the global cost of unaddressed hearing loss comes in at £750 billion a year in total, due to the cost of the additional healthcare, mental health support and hearing equipment that individuals with hearing loss require.
This total also takes into account the cost of unemployment, as deaf people are unable to find work in some parts of the world.
In the UK, NHS England launches its Action Plan on Hearing Loss in 2015, which established a Commissioning Framework for adults with hearing loss to ensure they are supported by employers, carers and the community.
However, there are concerns that the cost of providing for these patients could rise further unless more people accept that they need assistance with their hearing at an early stage.
Paul Breckell, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, commented: "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."
With this in mind, the charity wants GPs, nurses and specialists such as audiologists to do more to raise awareness of the importance of having hearing decline checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Not only will this help to ensure patients can begin accessing help early on, it should also help to reduce cost and resource pressures for the already overstretched NHS over the long term.
Written by James Puckle
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