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    • Pennywise
    • By Pennywise 9th Jan 18, 8:47 AM
    • 11,677Posts
    • 22,563Thanks
    Are private hearing aids better than NHS?
    • #1
    • 9th Jan 18, 8:47 AM
    Are private hearing aids better than NHS? 9th Jan 18 at 8:47 AM
    I've had NHS hearing aids now for a year. I've been back to audiology dept several times as they're just not right. In a social setting, i.e. meeting, party, etc., they're completely useless as all they do is amplify the background noise meaning I still can't hear people talking. In fact, over Christmas, I found I could hear better without them. They're fine on, say, a country walk, as they amplify bird tweets etc.

    Just wondering whether it's because the NHS ones are poor quality, and whether I'd have a better outcome if I got some privately - they're expensive, starting at 495. I don't want to fork out that kind of money if they're going to be similar to the NHS ones.

    Anyone got any guidance or experience in moving from NHS to private?
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    • CaptJack
    • By CaptJack 10th Mar 19, 1:25 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    Private or NHS? It depends.
    I have NHS hearing aids, and I've also tried private aids too from one of the big High Street names. Personally I prefer my NHS aids. They work perfectly well, and the support from the local NHS audiology service really is excellent.

    The private ones I tried were definitely better acoustically, but the difference was only marginal. For me the really big advantages of the NHS aids are:

    1. Cost - NHS hearing aids are free for life. Private ones will cost up to 5,000 or even more a set. As any hearing aid wears out after 3 or 4 years the total cost of private aids will add up over time.

    2. Fiddle - My NHS aids are the behind-the-ear type, with tiny plastic tubes and the little silicone "mushrooms" that lodge in the ear canal. These are easy to fit, completely comfortable, and simple to keep clean. The private aids fitted behind my ears, but had tiny speakers on thin wires that were placed inside each ear. These looked much like the NHS ones, but had so-called "wax traps" that needed to be changed every month, along with the soft plastic mushrooms that also had to be changed each month. These are not free. The private aids were much more fiddly to look after, and did not feel as robust as the NHS ones. The private aids also used up batteries more quickly - a set every 4 or 5 days compared with 8 or 9 days with my NHS aids.

    3. Convenience. The nearest private supplier to me is a shop in the next town 15 miles away. The NHS hospital in my home town is only small, but has an audiology service that is open even on a Saturday. I can collect batteries any time, and making any appointments is simply a matter of a sending an email, in response to which I'll get a phone call the same day.

    4. Customer care. The NHS audiologists work in sound-proofed rooms, and seem to have more time for their patients. The private shop had a little booth, but it didn't seem to me to be as well-equipped as the hospital. Also, I got the feeling that the private people are more rushed - maybe it's because they are trying to sell you something.

    I'm sure that if your local NHS audiology service isn't that great then private aids have to be a consideration. But I'd definitely try the NHS first. You might be pleasantly surprised.
    • margaretclare
    • By margaretclare 12th Mar 19, 2:42 PM
    • 10,194 Posts
    • 17,260 Thanks
    DH is still using his Amplifon hearing aids but he now has a new app on his phone which works for his Re-Sound aids and is much better.
    r ic wisdom funde, r wear ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 19th Mar 19, 5:04 PM
    • 6,452 Posts
    • 7,173 Thanks
    Private hearing test will probably last 30-40 mins but that is because they are really trying to sell you one, whereas NHS I found maybe 5-10 mins, nothing to sell.
    Originally posted by justaquestion

    I've had 2 hearing tests at NHS audiology departments. The first took over an hour and the second about 3/4 of an hour. On the 2nd the audiologist apologised for it being rushed as the appointment made, in error, had been for too short a period. All required tests were done.
    I don't currently have hearing aids because my problem is predominantly in crowded environments where, as others have said, hearing aids don't necessarily 'aid' at all. The audiologist said he has problems in that situation too, and that he removes them when flying because all noise is amplified and makes life miserable.
    • xpc316e
    • By xpc316e 11th May 19, 4:23 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    I have just had a Boots extended hearing test as I have the problem of not being able to hear voices in busy environments. I was fitted with Phonak Marvel 90 aids and their ability to enhance voices, even when there is plenty of background noise was remarkable.

    I was quoted 2945 for 2 rechargeable ones, 5 year warranty, aftercare, etc. A quick internet search shows them available at just over a 1000 each, so Boots are doing well out of the deal.

    I have an appointment at my NHS audiology department next month and will report back when I get NHS ones.
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