More delays on hearing aid decision

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Staffordshire health bosses have delayed a controversial decision over whether to stop moderately deaf adults receiving free NHS hearing aids. They announced the delay – which won't see a decision until next year – after being confronted by scores of protesters.

Although the decision has been delayed health chiefs have warned they are continuing to draw up tighter rules over who qualifies for the service. If approved, the proposals will hit hundreds of people in Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands as North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) tries to save £1.2 million. The decision had already been put back from September to allow the CCG – run by local GPs – to study new evidence. Staffordshire County Council which has threatened to refer the plans to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, was then told the final decision would be made on 5th November.

CCG chairman Dr Julie Oxtoby, a Leek GP, said: "No decision has yet been made. We have not clarified the eligibility but have looked at the evidence. We will now produce a commissioning policy specifying the criteria which will reflect the local population needs, the learning from our engagement and our financial position. It will then go through quality and equality impact assessments before being presented next year for discussion and debate." She added that the criteria would look at whether deaf people also had dementia, learning disabilities, other serious conditions together with the extent of their hearing loss.

Source: Stoke Sentinel

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