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Where can I get free NHS hearing aids?

Updated: Jul 2

Several UK private hearing care providers (AQP) can offer you a free hearing test and a pair of free hearing aids provided by the UK National Health Services (NHS). This is in addition to NHS hospitals with a hearing care section. One of the well-established ones with a multi-branch footprint is Specsavers. Your GP is the best starting point for who you should contact to find a local provider of NHS hearing aids and obtain a referral letter and book an appointment for a hearing test.


The rest of this article addresses common questions about NHS hearing aids.



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Common questions about NHS hearing aids:

  1. Which brand of hearing aid does NHS offer?

  2. Which brand of hearing aids does NHS offer?

  3. Does NHS offer invisible and rechargeable hearing aids?

  4. What is the lifespan of an NHS hearing aid?

  5. How often should you get a new hearing aid

  6. Can I get my NHS hearing aids reprogrammed?

  7. Can I get my private hearing aids programmed?

  8. What are the shortfalls of NHS hearing aids?

  9. Which NHS hearing aid has the best speech clarity?

  10. What is the best low-cost hearing aid in the UK?

  11. What are the most powerful NHS hearing aids?

  12. Does NHS provide invisible hearing aids in the canal?

  13. Which Phonak hearing aids are used by the NHS

  14. What are the general problems with NHS hearing aids?

  15. How can I update my NHS hearing aids?

  16. What Oticon hearing aids are used for severe hearing loss by the NHS?

  17. Do NHS hearing aid providers also make earmoulds for me?

  18. How much does it cost to reprogram a hearing aid in the UK?




Which brand of hearing aid does NHS offer for seniors?

In the UK, depending on your postcode, the national health system offers a specific brand of hearing aids. Signia, Phonak, Oticon, and Resound are among the hearing aids that you may be fitted within one of the NHS hearing care centres.


What models of hearing aids does the NHS offer?

NHS hearing aids are pretty much one size fits all. In the UK the NHS only provides behind-the-ear (BTE) and in very limited postcodes receiver in canal (RIC) hearing aids.


Does NHS offer invisible hearing aids for senior patients?

No, invisible hearing aids are outside the scope of free hearing aids in the UK. The same goes for rechargeable and Bluetooth hearing aids (limited to certain postcodes only)


What is the lifespan of an NHS hearing aid?

Most NHS trusts work based on a 3 or 4-year lifetime of the prescribed hearing aids.


How often should you get a new hearing aid?

Most of the premium hearing aids come with a 5-year warranty and often they live well beyond 5 years if they are maintained well. As for the NHS hearing aids you might be entitled to a new pair of hearing aids every 3 or 4 years.


Can I get my NHS hearing aids reprogrammed?

Unfortunately, most of the NHS hearing aids are locked, meaning only the same provider can reprogram them for you.


Can I get my private hearing aids programmed?

Yes, you can contact the closest independent audiologist to get your private hearing aids reprogrammed or fine and tuned. This includes the situations in which you no longer live in the UK.


What are the shortfalls of the NHS hearing aids?

While the free NHS hearing aids are a great scheme to provide such a service for millions, it falls short in several areas:

  • Sound quality - The NHS hearing aids are usually entry-level hence they are not the best that you can find in the market for speech clarity in noisy environments.

  • Noise - Managing the background noise including the noise in a restaurant, a high street, and wind noise is something that the NHS hearing aids are not very good at. This is a fact because simply to run such a nationwide program government has to offer a set of hearing aids which satisfies the basic needs, hence NHS hearing aids are not sophisticated enough to help with different noisy soundscapes.

  • Style - It is a one-size-fits-all model for example it is being offered in the BTE model only, and there is no provision for

  • Model - You will receive the hearing aid model that is available, no variety of options to choose from.

  • Bluetooth connectivity - Most of the hearing aids provided by NHS do not have Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth connectivity can improve speech understanding for a conversation on the phone, as well as streaming the TV soundtrack straight to your hearing aids.

  • Rechargeable - Unfortunately NHS hearing aids are not rechargeable. Rechargeable hearing aids are a great choice for people with dexterity issues, arthritis and those with poor eyesight.

  • Waiting time - The waiting time to be tested and to receive NHS hearing aids is usually several months.

  • Service quality - Due to the very high workload of the personnel in NHS divisions, there is a high turnover in NHS hearing care. Also, it is unusual to be seen by a junior audiologist in private providers of NHS hearing aids such as Specsavers.


Which NHS hearing aid has the best speech clarity for senior users?

NHS hearing aids are quite similar in their quality of sound and ability to help you better in a noisy environment. In my experience you would have a better chance of being satisfied with your NHS hearing aids if you are fitted with a pair of Phonak or Signia hearing aids and by a rather more experienced audiologist. Given the entry level of the NHS hearing aids you need an experienced hearing care professional to get the best sound quality out of the NHS hearing aids for you.



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What is the best low-cost hearing aid in the UK for seniors?

Please see our collection of NHS+ hearing aids which are hand-picked to be affordable yet offer a better sound quality and overall hearing experience than NHS hearing aids. Our NHS+ hearing aids come with 5 years of warranty and free in-clinic or remote hearing care.


What are the most powerful NHS hearing aids for the elderly?

I've observed that NHS uses Phonak Naida or Oticon Exceed for patients with severe to profound hearing loss.


Does NHS provide invisible hearing aids in the canal?

No, the scheme of free hearing aids through the national health system in the UK is a basic service and does not cover invisible IIC and CIC hearing aids.


Which Phonak hearing aids are used by the NHS?

Most of the Phonak hearing aids through NHS are Phonak Nathos BTE.


How can I update my NHS hearing aids?

Best to contact the same hearing care provider who fitted them for you, or speak to your GP.


What Oticon hearing aids are used for severe hearing loss by the NHS?

In my experience, NHS hearing care divisions use Oticon Xceed for patients with severe to profound hearing loss.


Do NHS hearing aid providers also make earmoulds for me?

Yes, if your hearing loss is severe to profound it's very likely that the NHS hearing aid provider will make ear impressions from your ears and will provide you a free set of earmoulds.


How much does it cost to reprogram a hearing aid in the UK?

Reprogramming of your NHS hearing aids is free of charge. If you feel that your hearing has changed best to contact your NHS hearing care provider and ask for a free hearing test and reprogramming appointment. For reprogramming of private hearing aids please see our hearing aid reprogramming page here.






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