I wish to tell you about a silent scandal and hope that by the end of this article, you too will feel at least some of the outrage that currently has me in its grip. This issue may only affect a small minority of people but the suffering, mental anguish and loss of quality of life for these individuals cannot be overlooked.
Frustratingly, this problem is completely avoidable if only the NHS would listen to the needs of hearing aid users and continue to allow them a choice.
You may have heard of campaigns in recent years to provide digital hearing aids to all those who need them and to shorten waiting times, all very laudable I’m sure you agree. The assumption is that digital is always better and for those who find it so it is indeed good news that digital aids are now freely available.
Now here is the bit where I reach for my soapbox. Digital aids are NOT suitable for all people with hearing loss. It’s time to speak out against this brave new world which marches forwards in all it’s technological glory as it tramples in the dust the people who need analogue aids. Can you imagine how it feels for someone who has been enjoying a full life, working, socialising and making music to then be told that the hearing aid that enabled all this is no longer to be provided.
Online forums are full of heartbreaking tales of the devastating effects of this forced switch to digital. People who can no longer hear their loved ones the way they used to, parents who can no longer hear their children crying. Others who have had to give up their love of music, either playing or listening to. It’s not surprising that depression can be the result when the NHS take away your “ears” and replace them with a pathetic, unsuitable alternative, while at the same time arrogantly claiming that they know best. No doubt the digital aids are technologically outstanding, but this does not always translate into reality.
My husband is happy with his old analogue hearing aid. He works full time and in his spare time he plays guitar and sings in a band. Unfortunately his old aid will not last forever and he has been issued with a new digital hearing aid, the result is horrible. We have known for some time that this day would come and it’s hung over him like a death sentence. He tried digital a few years ago and I’d never seen him so miserable. There was no way he could go to work or play music with it. This new digital is no better but he has been told he must get used to it. He’s trying so hard but to be able to work or go to band practice he puts his old aid in. This is not a long term solution.
We have hit a brick wall trying to find out where we could buy another analogue hearing aid if the NHS will not provide one. It seems the whole world is going digital and it appears that many manufacturers are no longer making analogue aids now that health services have cancelled the contracts to purchase them.
What can be done? Well we need to raise awareness and support the rights of all the people who are battling alone against their audiology departments. It’s easy for an individual to be told that it’s just them that have a problem and they must accept it and get used to it. Let’s not allow this.
It would be great to see as many people as possible join a facebook group to put pressure on the NHS. The group will be open to all people who wish to support the human rights of analogue hearing aid users, as well as the users themselves. We need to show them that they are not alone in this fight.
So, I have started a group, please join and please be patient with me as I am a novice with the workings of facebook.
Thank you for reading and please copy and paste the links into your browser as I am finding it impossible to make them clickable.
Here are just a few threads so that you can see for yourself that this is not just one isolated case.