UK NHS Aids vs Private

This is one for the UK based folk on here.

Can anyone explain up what the deal is with NHS aids in terms of their ability/technology? A friend of a friend works for the RNID and claims NHS aids are very good and shouldn’t be discounted. Equally anyone within the NHS highly recommends them and tries to dissuade going private, which is less surprising.

Is there an easy way to compare them to what’s available privately? Are they good to have as a backup, but if you really want smaller, or more advanced aids then go private?

Would be interested in peoples opinions on this.

Both are to some extent vested interests: as am I.

Trying the NHS is always worth it, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you get, the service, the aftercare and the ability to get adjustments made etc.

The problem is that it seems like even the Government has recognised that the experience isn’t universally happy or appropriate for everybody, which is why they are introducing an Any Qualified Provider (AQP) service in the next year or so: the aim of which is to provide more accessible hearing healthcare on the high-street from your local independent and national chains.

Healthcare is devolved here, so I’m not going to be part of the process, but it will mean you (in England) will be able to get a basic hearing aids over the counter in the high street free at the point of service.

IMHO the Audiology departments have a lot to lose in this process, as their ‘bread+butter’ fittings will diminish and this could lead to quite a degree of animosity - way more than the current ‘we can fit you with a £3000.00 hearing aid for free’ nonsense that gets spouted at the moment. The junior/middle fitting roles will become fewer I’d expect. Downsizing departments as a result, with less corresponding support staff etc.

Purely in terms of technology, the NHS is a little behind the leading edge: slightly older chipsets etc, but as has been evidenced on this site to some extent, you aren’t really paying for a lump of plastic, you are paying for ongoing access to a professional who is able to go through the process of habituating you to an alien device via as many visits as you require, at your convenience. This is the one thing that is difficult to measure - internally, it’s the process (or Journey) that costs - not the product.

Hi lepetitoeuf,

I am just a hearing wearer and can only comment on my own experiences.

NHS hearing aids can be excellent, and at the moment I think there are about 3 major brands that they provide in a re-badged form - these are Siemens, Oticon and Phonak. Usually, the hearing aids are about 2 years behind the current latest offerings, and they are perhaps the mid segment range for that product. Although for super power losses, the Phonak Naida is re-badged as a Phonak Nathos - this is a premium aid.

So, if you do not wish to go private, perhaps have no money, then you can get an aid, which is a bit like buying a 2 to 3 year old car perhaps - with not the latest uo to date features, but it will still be excellent, even by today’s technology comparison.

The disadvantages are the the NHS do not supply in the ear hearing aids. So you will not be able to get a CIC (Completely in the Canal), and ITC (In the Canal) hearing aid. I think they may supply ITE (In the Ear) hearing aids - which are much more noticeable - but, only if the hearing aid wearer has a particular problem that precludes them from wearing a BTE (Behind The Ear) hearing aid or RIC (Receiver in the Canal) hearing aid.

Some NHS hearing aids do provide bluetooth functionality - like the Oticon Spirit Zest C (Communicate) version - but from the information I have seen on forums, this is a bit of a post code lottery - it is not guaranteed. Certainly, if you go private, you will be able to get bluetooth - even on smaller hearing aids.

With respect to private aids, there is also a greater degree of customisation and personalisation. And you can also get IIC - Invisible in the canal hearing aids, that will certainly not be available on the NHS.

You may also hear arguments about levels of service with respect to private v NHS. I haven’t personally had a problem with going back for repeat visits to the NHS, but I have heard some people claim that their time is limited - but then I’ve heard counter claims ! So I’m not sure.

I don’t know anything about the NHS except what I hear here… but, why wouldn’t someone go the ‘free’ route first and then if not satisfied opt to go private?

Thanks for all of the feedback.

So the NHS aids are good and worth trying, but you can get better service & technology on the private market.

Al least the NHS is open and trustworthy, I’m not very impressed with most of the private section of the industry that I’ve dealt with in the last few weeks. They don’t inspire confidence, maybe I ask too many questions and they’re used to dealing with 60+ customers they can bully/patronise rather than people in their early thirties like me.

Anyway, I’m going to head down the private route, I met one Audi who seemed to be on the right level.

maybe I ask too many questions

Try that with the NHS! :eek: