"Cheap, naff, ugly hearing aids"

About: Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Birmingham)

The hearing aids I was issued with look like cheap tat.

They used to issue hearing aids in dignified colours like taupe and slate grey, and I've looked on the manufacturer's website and they make the model in a range of colours, so I assume the choice of colour was dictated by price, although I can't see why different colours would be different prices unless the manufacturer wanted to offload a batch that it couldn't get rid of through the private market.

However, the NHS manages to use its size to negotiate cheap drug prices, so why not cheap prices for good hearing aids?

I shall be saving up for private hearing aids.

I appreciate that they will be expensive but I don't think that being disabled should mean using ugly shiny metallic coloured equipment unless you absolutely have to.

It would be nice if they offered the opportunity to pay for an upgrade to something more neutral.

As a general comment, be prepared for aids with very small buttons not best suited to ageing rheumatic fingers.

The battery compartment is difficult to open, and when you open it, there's a sharp bit to catch your skin, but that can be dealt with by using a nail file or knife to open the battery compartment.

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Response from Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. We welcome all feedback and would like to assure you that all comments are taken seriously and acted upon as part of our ongoing commitment to improving patient experience.

Your comments have been shared with the senior team responsible for the Audiology Service, they are concerned to hear about the problems you have experienced and have responded to say; “Hearing aids provided at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and elsewhere in the NHS, are state of the art digital aids which are purchased through nationally-negotiated contracts.

The technology used by these aids is on a par with commercially-available aids. Patients have the option to purchase private hearing aids ‘in the high street’ but normally this is for cosmetic not technical reasons.

It is not economical for the NHS to provide hearing aids for free in a range of many colours, but we do offer a choice of three colours which 99% of our service users find acceptable.

A new contract for hearing aids from a different supplier is about to begin, which will include a different choice of colours.

Our audiologists strive to find the best possible solution to the hearing needs of all our patients, including fitting aids that patients can manage. Most patients greatly prefer smaller aids but inevitably that means that they have smaller battery drawers which some patients may find difficult.

We will be happy to meet to discuss your concerns and to explore ways of improving things”

If you would like to meet with a member of the team please make contact via the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who will be pleased to put you in touch.

PALS can be contacted by phone 0121 371 3280, by email PALS@uhb.nhs.uk, via the hospital website www.uhb.nhs.uk/pals-form or in person by dropping in between 9am – 5pm (Mon-Fri) to the PALS office located near the Information Desk in the main entrance of the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

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