As providers, we know there is significant unmet hearing need in our communities, that pressures on hospital services are acute and growing, that commissioning often fails to reflect current pressures or growing demand, and that resources intended for audiology do not always reach the front-line. More capacity and more transparency to address these issues are desperately needed. At the same time hearing still ranks low in local public health priorities (even though this is now changing at a national level). The Department of Health’s and NHS England’s joint Action Plan on Hearing Loss and a National Commissioning Framework for Hearingii should begin to help commissioners and providers address these issues.
This guidance sets out simple steps that all providers can take with commissioners to reshape and expand hearing services within the Five Year Forward View until the Commissioning Framework becomes available communicating and working with one another (including commissioners) making the case for hearing loss locally, assessing need, meeting the capacity challenge, focussing on outcomes rather than inputs, engaging front-line staff in service redesign, agreeing clear service specifications and publishing results and taking account of best practice recommendations.
Of these, ‘communicating and working with one another’ is the most important first step.
There are supporting documents which you can download here.