People affected by hearing loss and primary care staff are being asked to share their experience and views on NHS services, as part of a review by Monitor.
The health sector regulator wants to find out whether those patients offered a choice of different hearing aids and tests feel their interests are better served than those who are not given a choice.
“There have been concerns about the quality and choice of hearing loss services on offer”
It is thought that around half a million over-55s in England who suffer from hearing loss and use the relevant NHS services are able to choose between different providers.
This is because across half of England, contracts have been set up between local commissioners and NHS bodies as well as independent sector providers – at a cost of around £200m to the NHS per year.
Monitor has now teamed up with several charities, including Action on Hearing Loss, to find out whether more choice leads to a better quality of services and care for patients.
Roger Wicks, director of policy and campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “We all know someone with hearing loss – if not ourselves, perhaps a parent or a neighbour.
“Since any qualified provider was rolled out, there have been concerns about the quality and choice of hearing loss services on offer, hence our campaigning for it to be properly monitored and evaluated,” he said.
“We’d strongly encourage individuals, GP, commissioners and providers to share their experiences so improvements can be made to offer people the services they expect, deserve and need,” he added.
Those taking part in the poll have been asked to fill in an online survey that includes questions on patient experiences of using NHS services, whether they had a choice of providers, and whether they would prefer more choice.
Catherine Davies, executive director of co-operation and competition at Monitor, said the aim of the survey is to find out what patients think of the NHS services they receive, and to help local commissioners understand what patients want.
Monitor will also poll GPs, providers and commissioners to better understand the arrangements that allow providers to offer hearing loss services. The results of the survey will be made available to commissioners so they can make the best decisions when buying services in the future.
- Monitor has launched five surveys – for patients, patient groups, healthcare providers, GPs and commissioners. To take part in a survey, visit the monitor website