The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) have called on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to commission an urgent review of ear wax removal services provided by the NHS.
A study conducted by the RNID found that despite there being 2.3 million people in the UK who require ear wax removal yearly, ear wax removal services have been reduced or halted completely in many areas. This means that many people who suffer from hearing loss, are deaf or who have tinnitus are facing dangerous, limiting options, either:
- Paying for private ear wax removal – which can cost around £240 per year
- Trying to remove their ear wax themselves – which may result in loss of hearing, damage to the ear drum or canal or infection
- Or doing nothing – risking isolation and leaving them susceptible to depression.
In its report launched 24 January, the RNID called for:
- Urgent Government intervention to ensure that patients with a medical need for ear wax removal have access to the service on the NHS, regardless of where they live
- Health commissioners to examine different ways of delivering the service through primary and community care, and ensure that where the service is commissioned, ear wax removal providers are delivering the service as contracted
- NHS England to improve its information about how patients can manage ear wax build-up, and ensure that GP surgeries share consistent, safe and evidence-based information with their patients.
“There is no medical reason for the withdrawal of this vital service, which is essential for 2.3 million people in the UK. This report exposes a horrifying reality for thousands of people being let down by commissioners who are neglecting public health guidelines,” said Victoria Boelman, director of Insight and Policy at the RNID.