UK tinnitus leader calls it a day...but can call it a good day!




Over 12 years of leadership, David Stockdale has increased the British Tinnitus Association's income by £1m, built an infrastructure for continued growth, and powered the push to create a Tinnitus Biobank. Leaving the charity this month for another position in the health sphere, this acclaimed number one spoke to Audio Infos UK.

How easy has it been to be Chief Executive of the BTA?

I’m not sure ‘easy’ is a descriptor I’d use! It has been a privilege and an honour to serve the BTA membership and the wider tinnitus community. It is an amazing role to have too – no two days are the same. The variety and pace of the job are what make it exhilarating and fun – but also at times challenging to balance so many spinning plates. As a charity the BTA looks to work across the whole spectrum of tinnitus; research, prevention and support. That means there are a lot of stakeholders and a lot of responsibilities to different parties that are holding you to account.

What opinion do you take away of how well professionals in hearing care and medicine understand and deal with such a difficult condition as tinnitus?

Improving! I think awareness and knowledge is increasing across all professions. That said, there’s still work to do and until we have better ways to manage or ultimately cure tinnitus, I think there will always be a gap. Our knowledge of tinnitus is evolving but without that true understanding of the underlying mechanism we will always be behind in creating awareness and developing cures.

During your time with the BTA, where have you found the charity’s strongest allies?

Everywhere; it makes it very hard to leave such a great and supportive community. Ultimately everyone wants the BTA to succeed in delivering our vision of ‘a world where no one suffers from tinnitus.’ Whether that is researchers delivering better ways to manage and cure tinnitus, clinicians delivering those improved solutions or, of course, the patients that are receiving them. That has led to an international network of allies that are all working towards common goals, that is strong and possibly the strongest it has ever been.

Beyond the support the BTA can provide them, tinnitus sufferers will look to the BTA to advance treatment options and close in on a cure. From your highly vantaged perspective, where do you think the best hopes of achieving these outcomes lie?

A Tinnitus Biobank. There is a need to develop the information that will advance our underlying knowledge of tinnitus and direct towards where cures may be found. Such a resource (and the research that it will lead to) would give a fantastic platform to advance knowledge at a pace not seen before.

You’ve set the bar high for a successor. If you were staying another ten years, how much do you think you could still achieve?

I’d like to see a Tinnitus Biobank in use. The data collected and research being produced utilising the biobank advancing our knowledge and really generating momentum and wider interest in tinnitus research. Beyond that I think there are still improvements the BTA can make in how we support people to live well with tinnitus now, improve awareness of tinnitus and what to do and better support clinicians on the frontline to deliver the best level of care possible. It is a great field to be involved in and one that is on the search for new blood and new faces to take on the challenge, I’d encourage anyone to get involved!

Source: Audio Infos UK issue 148 May-June 2022