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NHS Hearing Aids vs. Private Hearing Aids

Why should you buy a hearing aid from a private company when the NHS provides them for free? What's the result when you compare NHS vs private hearing aids? This blog post looks at the service and the quality of the hearing aid you get from both the NHS and private Hearing Aid suppliers. Not everyone can afford to buy hearing aids and unfortunately in many cases they delay the purchase or write it off completely, especially when they've heard horror stories about hearing aids costing thousands of pounds.

Deciding to buy a hearing aid and choosing which one can be a lengthy process as there are many factors to take into account when considering which are the best hearing aids to buy. To get the most benefit from your hearing aid, you need to know it is the right one for your hearing loss (mild, moderate or severe ) and is affordable for your budget. It is important to know, though, that any degree of hearing loss can have a substantial impact on people's lives. Not being able to interact with people can lead to social isolation. No one should underestimate the improvement a hearing aid can bring. 

NHS hearing aids

The NHS provides an invaluable service for hearing aid users in the UK - free hearing aids for anyone with hearing loss. This is important for people on a restricted budget, and those who are apprehensive about buying a hearing aid. The process involves a hearing test by a specialist to recommend a suitable hearing aid. The NHS, although offering a limited range of models, is an option worth considering for many hard of hearing people. However, as with every service that does not require financial investment, you should be aware of certain issues.


The pros of NHS hearing aids

  • They don’t cost anything
  • You won’t have to worry about the cost of repairs and replacement batteries, hearing aid repair clinics will look after that for you
  • There are many hospitals and NHS hearing aid providers that will provide free aftercare for your hearing aid, either on-site or at a visiting centre
  • The NHS now supplies digital hearing aid models to everyone, which have been designed to accurately match your hearing loss


The cons of NHS hearing aids

  • Receiving your hearing aid can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months after seeing your GP
  • You could be charged if you lose your hearing aid
  • The range is limited. Although mostly digital, the NHS only offers a small range of models. It is possible that you will not be completely satisfied with the hearing aid you get
  • No assistive listening devices. The vast majority of NHS audiology services offer only free hearing aids and no additional devices such as amplified phones, induction loops, doorbells, loud alarm clocks, etc. unless by special arrangement


How can I receive a hearing aid from the NHS?

For those who are having problems with their hearing, and wish to obtain a hearing aid via the NHS, it is important to firstly seek the help of a GP. They will arrange a referral for a hearing assessment. The hearing assessment will be conducted by either an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor or an audiologist (hearing specialist). They will recommend the best type of hearing aid for your needs, and then you will be placed on a waiting list for a hearing aid fitting.  

Which types of hearing aids are available on the NHS?

The most common hearing aids you can get from the NHS are behind the ear hearing aids, although in certain cases, bone conduction, bone anchored, CROS and BiCROS hearing aids may be arranged. Buying hearing aids privately will grant you a much richer choice in technology, type, models, functions, design and colour.


Private Hearing Aids - Hearing Direct

At Hearing Direct we pride ourselves on giving our customers the most affordable option when buying hearing aids privately. If you are wanting to compare NHS vs private hearing aids, online stores such as Hearing Direct are an ideal option. We have an extensive range and very affordable prices, with our devices featuring the latest in digital hearing aid technology. Our hearing aids come with a 30-day trial period and warranty, enabling you to test the device and return it if it is not the best fit for you. A major benefit of buying from a private distributor such as Hearing Direct is that there are no major wait times, your device will be at your door in as little as 3 - 5 working days.


Most of our hearing aids can be adjusted to fit your audiogram. If you don't have one already you can take our online hearing test which only takes 3 minutes and you get your result immediately. Our qualified audiologist is on hand to give you any advice you need when selecting your hearing aid.

High Street Hearing Aid Options

Many high street specialists sell hearing aids as well. When you book an appointment with a high street store, a professional hearing aid dispenser will test your hearing. They will recommend which hearing aid will best suit your needs. These stores have high overheads and therefore the cost is generally higher than buying online. You can end up paying considerably more for a hearing aid you can get through the NHS or through Hearing Direct.

Can I get an NHS Hearing Aid at a High Street store?

Yes you can. The NHS directly commissions and accredits a few high street stores to provide hearing aids under the NHS AQP scheme. This means that hard of hearing people who are over 55 years old may be able to obtain NHS hearing aids through a local store. You still need to make an appointment with your GP as the first point of contact, but this is a useful option for those people not within easy reach of a hospital audiology department.

Further Information

You may also be interested in the following posts to give you more information to compare NHS vs private hearing aids:

About Hearing Direct

We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. HearingDirect offers a wide range of affordable products, as well as information resources to help improve the quality of life for the hard of hearing. We sell:

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Author: Joan McKechnie

After qualifying as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist Joan has spent most of her 20 year career in hearing-care related roles. She has a wealth of experience within the hearing aid and hearing rehabilitation fields and has worked in manufacturing environments with two hearing aid companies helping to develop products and roll out new technologies. Joan has been involved with Hearing Direct since its launch and enjoys the online retail environment which seeks to provide easier access to hearing products and accessories. She is HCPC registered. Read Joan's full bio here.

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