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18 December 2020

Member news – 18 December


In our last regular member update of 2020: 


Member support over the festive season and the new year

After an incredibly difficult year, we know many of you will be taking a well-earned break over the next few weeks. Although we will be closed from 24 December and reopen on 4 January, we want to reassure you that you will get the support you need when you need it.

A member of the Executive team will be on hand to take your calls during the holiday period. Simply email [email protected] to receive contact details, and one of us will support you. 

We will also continue to monitor the pandemic, UK and EU trade talks and update you on significant sector developments via our website

The next member update will be on 8 January. 

We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable festive season and a happy new year.  


New guidelines for adults with severe and profound hearing loss

This week, the Guidelines for Best Practice in the Audiological Management of Adults with Severe and Profound Hearing Loss was published.  

The authors hope the guidelines will help hearing care professionals meet the needs of adults with a severe and profound degree of hearing loss. The guidelines set out the specific goal of the document as being to "provide a set of statements, recommendations, and strategies for best practices specific to the audiologic management of adults with severe and profound hearing loss".


Get involved - BSA ARIG

The BSA Adult Rehabilitation Interest Group (ARIG) has several vacancies for professionals with a special interest and expertise in this area to become part of the core group. 


GP and ENT discuss hearing loss in primary care 

The RNID, British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have continued to build on their joint working to make GPs more aware about the impacts of hearing loss. Following the launch of a new toolkit for GPs in November, the RCGP has a new podcast for primary care clinicians who care for patients with deafness and hearing loss. Listen to Deafness and hearing loss in primary care: In conversation with a GP and an ENT surgeon.


Legacy income helps RNID record first surplus in years 

Third Sector reports that the RNID has reduced its reliance on a revolving credit facility. The RNID recorded a deficit in each of the previous five years. Its accounts show it recorded its first surplus in five years, with an income of £42.7m and expenditure of £41.5m, supported by a £3.3m increase in legacies income. The charity also sold its London head office for £8.9m and used the income to pay off debts and strengthen its balance sheet.


Manchester University to research hearing aid use in adults 

NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and the University of Manchester are undertaking research aimed to increase adult hearing aid use. The goal is to "understand and resolve the thousands of instances of low-use of hearing aids in adults with hearing loss." Read more.   


Covid-19 updates 

Vaccine 

Since our last update on the Covid-19 vaccine, the NCHA policy team has continued to engage with the NHS to ensure community audiology is part of the health and care professionals' vaccination rollout phase. 

The HCPC has also reminded UK governments that roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine should capture all health and care professionals: 

  • "We also believe that health and care professionals, beyond core NHS staff, should be among the first to receive the vaccine in the next phase. These professionals often work in close contact with extremely vulnerable people, and we need to make it as safe as possible for them to continue to do so. We hope that this will be considered, and we look forward to receiving further information on the government's plans." Read the HCPC statement

At this stage, storage requirements for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and the need for two jabs mean rollout is likely to take time. We will keep members up to date with developments. 


Isolation period shortened 

The four UK chief medical officers (CMOs) have announced a reduction in the number of days that contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus have to self-isolate. People should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days. Read the CMOs press release.


Chancellor extends furlough and loan schemes 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced yesterday that the government is:

  • Extending the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021  
  • Extending the government-guaranteed Covid-19 loan scheme until the end of March 2021. 

The Chancellor had previously said he would review the employer contribution element of the furlough scheme in January but has now decided not to make changes. This means the government will continue to pay 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April. Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked. Read more.  


PSA critical of HCPC performance 

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has published its annual performance review of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), in which it is once again critical of the regulator's compliance with Standards for fitness to practise (FtP). 

The PSA notes that the HCPC only met one of the five Standards for FtP and said it had concerns about the regulator's performance since it started to audit the FtP function in 2017. 

The review found that the HCPC had made some improvements and the PSA was "satisfied that the HCPC's initial triage stage is now working appropriately". However, the PSA remained "concerned about several other areas of the HCPC's work in fitness to practise". It says the HCPC had made limited progress overall. The PSA said: 

  • "We are very concerned that poor performance against the Standards for fitness to practise by the HCPC has continued into this performance review cycle. We will be seeking urgent meetings with the Chair of the HCPC to understand how the HCPC plans to address our concerns and achieve improvement. We will also put in place regular monitoring to enable us to assess the HCPC's progress." 

In addition, it had "written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Ministers in the devolved administrations and the Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee outlining our concerns and will keep them informed of progress." 

Read more.    


Other sector news 

The Hearing Journal covers Telemedicine for Hearing Loss and provides advice on digital marketing strategies for audiology. 

Audiology Worldnews sets out reasons to be optimistic about 2021, with improved collaboration and advancements in models of hearing care to build on progress made during the pandemic. Read more

Ida is also focused on the future. Its article on The future of hearing healthcare is under construction

Meanwhile, a study has found there was no measurable cochlear dysfunction in asymptomatic Covid-19 patients. Read more.        

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