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29 September 2023

NCHA member update - 29 September

This week:

BIHIMA reports drop in hearing aid sales

Hearing aid sales fell sharply in the second quarter of the year compared with the first quarter, the British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association reports.

The main influence was a 25% fall in sales to the NHS. While sales to the private sector were up 6% on the same quarter last year, they were 0.5% down on the first quarter of this year.

The news comes after encouraging growth for the sector at the year's start, compared to pre-pandemic levels. BIHIMA said sales to the NHS were affected by a changeover of contracts in April and supply-chain challenges.

Dementia test for people with hearing loss

Researchers in Manchester have developed and validated the first reliable test to assess dementia in people with hearing difficulties, in response to concerns that people with good hearing performed better.

The MoCA-H test was developed as part of the international SENSE-Cog project. It is an adaptation of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) tool, a set of questions and memory tasks commonly used to assess people for dementia.

The researchers raised concerns that performance in three of the tasks in the original version, which required listening, resulted in an 'overestimation of cognitive impairment' among those with hearing loss. Another test exists for those who use BSL.

NICE guidelines for children with otitis media

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published new guidance on identifying and managing children with otitis media with effusion, commonly known as glue ear.

The changes include:

  • Children who have OME without hearing loss do not need treatment
  • Air-conduction hearing aids or bone-conduction devices should be considered as an alternative to ventilation tubes for children with OME-related hearing loss. Grommet insertions are currently at a fifth of their pre-pandemic levels
  • Clinicians should consider a one-year follow-up after grommet insertion if they think a potential recurrence of hearing loss could be missed.

Get involved: COACH trial

The COACH trial is calling for participants for their research into the effectiveness of cochlear implantation. They are interested in adults with severe hearing loss who struggle with hearing aids but narrowly miss the NHS criteria for cochlear implantation. Find out more.

HCPC fees and registration

An HCPC fee rise of £18.24 is expected to come into effect in November following approval by the Department for Health and Social Care and the Scottish Government.

The rise will not affect this year's registration for clinical scientists, whose window for renewal closes on 30 September. We encourage all clinicians to ensure their registration is current here.

The HCPC has recently been alerted to third-party companies offering to complete applications on behalf of clinicians who want to join its register. Please be aware that the named healthcare professional must complete the applications.

Hearing care professionals are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the updated HCPC standards of proficiency, which came into force this month.

Deaf contestant joins Bake Off

Great British Bake Off featured its first-ever Deaf contestant when it returned to the screen on 26 September.
Tasha, 27, a participation officer from Bristol, is appearing in the show with her BSL interpreter, Daryl. The presenters have all been trying to learn some basic sign language, which they used to welcome the contestants to the tent.

Other sector news

  • Kevin Munro, Ewing professor of audiology, has been appointed 'research for patient benefit' programme director by the National Institute for Health and Care Research. He is the first audiologist to be awarded senior investigator status by the research body.
  • Changes in eye movements could be the first sign of hearing loss, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Health policy updates

UK rejoins Horizon research scheme
Scientists welcomed an agreement with the European Commission earlier this month that will allow the UK researchers to return to the Horizon Europe research programme following a three-year Brexit hiatus.

From January 2024, researchers and organisations will be able to apply for grants from the organisation. Horizon is the world's largest research and innovation programme, with a £85bn budget supporting international collaboration on a wide range of scientific issues, from healthcare to climate.
Health beyond the hospital
Health in the community was the theme of a speech by Helen Whately, the health and social care minister, this week. Addressing the NHS Confederation, she said 'we need to do healthcare differently' for our ageing population, 80% of whom are living with at least one long-term condition.

She called for more 'community-based, multidisciplinary, proactive, anticipatory care', using the experience of organisations such as Age UK. She added that there was a need for a cultural shift to switch budget resources to more out-of-hospital care. Read more.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that the goals of the government's NHS workforce plan, while welcome, will be hard to meet. A detailed analysis of the objectives highlighted retention of staff and increase in productivity as too ambitious based on historical performance.

The opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer reshuffled his shadow cabinet. The shadow health secretary Wes Streeting is joined by:

  • Abena Oppong-Asare - shadow minister for women's health and mental health
  • Andrew Gwynne - shadow minister for social care
  • Preet Gill - shadow minister for primary care and public health
  • Karin Smyth - shadow minister for health - leading on NHS reform
  • Feryal Clark - shadow minister for health

YouTube begins verifying health workers
YouTube has launched a healthcare worker verification platform to combat the spread of disinformation online.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers must meet strict criteria to be able to carry a badge on their videos verifying them as genuine, licensed practitioners, the BBC reported.

While increasing numbers of people are searching online for health advice, the accredited videos are not intended to replace medical appointments.










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