Hearing Screening for Life: the campaign is launched

Action on Hearing Loss estimates that hearing loss affects over 10 million people in the UK. That’s an astounding 1 in 6 of the overall population, but a much larger proportion of the older population. Some 60% of over 75s have a substantial hearing impairment. With an ever increasing ageing population, hearing loss and the difficulties that this brings will rapidly increase.

Most of us take our ability to hear for granted. Unlike failing eyesight it is not so easy for the individual to diagnose and take steps to manage. We now recognise that undiagnosed hearing loss can cause difficulties for people interacting with their family and friends, and can lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression. Furthermore it reduces the ability of the individual to access services including healthcare and can exacerbate or lead to other medical problems.

But this isn’t just a moral argument. It makes economic sense too. The estimated costs of screening 65 year olds, and providing interventions is £255 million over 10 years. But this is dwarfed by the benefits accrued over the same period taking into account personal, employment and healthcare factors which amount to in excess of £2 billion. At times when public spending is under pressure hearing screening makes economic sense.

The Royal Voluntary Service is proud to be part of a wide alliance of organisations that represent a broad range of interests. This is not a narrow interest issue, but one which impacts across many health and wellbeing boundaries.

In supporting the call Stephen Lloyd MP for Hearing Screening for those of 65 years of age, David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service chief executive, said: “The ability to hear properly and communicate with family and friends and to take part in social activities is critical in ensuring that older people can stay connected within their communities. Hearing loss can, therefore, have a hugely detrimental impact on an older person’s quality of life and we also know that isolation and loneliness can seriously damage older people’s physical and mental health. That is why the Royal Voluntary Service supports the campaign led by Stephen Lloyd MP for age onset hearing loss screening for those aged 65 and above. Far too many older people suffer from hearing loss but carry on without the advice and support that they need to live life to the full. We need to ensure that the availability of hearing screening is much more widespread and easier to access.”

Yesterday’s launch of the Hearing Screening for Life is just the beginning and not the end of the campaign. The next stage is to see Government agreement to the introduction of a pilot screening programme.

Posted by Steve Smith Public Affairs Manager (England) at 00:00 Friday, 07 June 2013.

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