Wednesday 24 August 2011

Nice to see Speccies and Action On Hearing Loss (RNID) in bed together...

UK sitting on hearing loss time bomb

Posted on 21/06/2011
One in three people with hearing difficulties is too embarrassed to wear a hearing aid and refuse to visit an audiologist for advice, according to a recent study by Specsavers Hearing Centres. Of those polled only 16% sought help immediately after recognising a loss of hearing.

Specsavers hopes to change attitudes to hearing loss by forging a strategic partnership with the UK largest charity for the deaf and hard of hearing – Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID).

Action on Hearing Loss, which this year celebrates its centenary, has signed a five year agreement with Specsavers Hearing Centres to work together to remove the stigma of hearing loss and promote hearing health. Together they have pledged to reach one million people nationwide over the next year by offering free hearing checks in-store and online.

According to the charity's report, Hearing Matters, it is estimated that up to four million people in the UK would benefit from a hearing aid and that this figure will rise as our population ages and noise pollution increases. By 2031 it is predicted that 14.5 million people in the UK will have some form of hearing loss.

Action on Hearing Loss chief executive, Jackie Ballard says: 'Our own research shows that 45% of people who reported hearing problems to their GP were, at first not referred for a hearing test, and that there is, on average, a ten year delay between symptoms and treatment. We are calling on the government to commit to a national strategy for dealing with hearing loss and to prioritise it in line with other major health issues, such as dementia.'

Jackie Ballard continues: 'Prevention and early diagnosis can significantly reduce the impact of hearing loss, which can lead to social isolation and increased mental health problems impacting the NHS. By introducing an adult screening programme, the government could save the country an estimated £2 billion.'

Specsavers Hearing Centres marketing director Mathew Gully, welcomes the news: ‘We are really delighted to be working with the nation’s largest charity taking action on hearing loss. This partnership marks the start of a new chapter in the way the nation views and treats hearing loss. Hearing is fundamental to an individual’s quality of life, as well as those around them.

'We shall be working together to normalise hearing loss, much as Specsavers has done with vision, offering people the best solution and promoting easy access to hearing care. After all, there is no logical reason why there should be any difference in the way we think of vision and hearing. If together we can change people’s attitudes to wearing hearing aids, as we have with the wearing of glasses, then we will have achieved our goal.’

Jackie Ballard adds: 'It is really important to us that whoever we work with has a good reputation and shares our ambition to reach those four million people who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. We believe that Specsavers can bring their marketing expertise and ability to reach a wide audience to help us remove the stigma surrounding this issue.

'Poor communication is the most serious barrier for people with hearing loss and can have significant personal and social costs, leading to social isolation and mental health issues. People don't think twice now about having their eyesight checked regularly but they put off having their hearing tested. Anything we can do to remove the stigma and encourage people to take action and seek help as soon as possible will have a huge impact.’'

For general media enquiries:

Rohini Simbodyal, PR Officer, telephone: 020 7296 8274 or

Notes to editors:

  1. Specsavers is the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK, offering a hearing service from more than 400 locations.
  2. Specsavers Sound Check the Nation survey of 825 UK residents carried out between 15 March 2011 and 09 April 2011 across all UK regions
  3. Action on Hearing Loss is the charity working for a world where hearing loss doesn't limit or label people, where tinnitus is silenced – and where people value and look after their hearing.
  4. Highlights of Action on Hearing Loss' Hearing Matters Report include:
    a) By 2030, the World Health Organisation would rank hearing loss in the top 10 disease burdens in high- and middle-income countries.
    b) Significant underinvestment in hearing research and a lack of progress in translating scientific discoveries into commercial treatments are holding us back. In 2010, The UK spent £1.34 on research into hearing loss for every person affected. This compares to £14.21 for sight loss, £21.31 for diabetes, and £49.71 for cardiovascular research.
    c) It takes, on average, 10 years for people from recognising a hearing loss to taking action. It’s important that people take action quickly because they can benefit from hearing aids sooner and be less likely to experience unnecessary isolation, which can lead to depression. The Action on Hearing Loss hearing check is an easy way for people to take the first steps to addressing their hearing loss.
    d) There are currently four million people in the UK who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid, but have yet to do anything about it. Action on Hearing Loss wants to remove the barriers to treatment, and the stigma of hearing loss, to enable these people to take action and live their lives to the full.
    A further four million young people in the UK are at risk of avoidable hearing damage from amplified music, but the government and educators are failing to recognise the magnitude of the issue.
    Referral of adults with hearing loss to sensory, social care and other rehabilitation services is ad hoc and sometimes completely lacking. Key services and support such as lipreading classes are also at risk of decline.

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