"Getting replacement hearing aids"

About: Sentinel Healthcare Southwest Community Interest Company / Ear, nose and throat service

(as the patient),

Contacted Sentinel in Plymouth on the advice of the local Hearing and Sight loss Centre, because I didn't think my hearing aids were working very well (I couldn't hear) and they were concerned that volume control and T position functions were disabled.

At the appointment it felt as if the specialist initially did not believe me, then snapped at me when I asked why the volume and functions were disabled. The specialist then asked me to remove my hearing aids and tried to explain to me what they were doing. I got the hearing aids back, and was then spoken to in a sort of dummy voice 'der'der'der' - can't describe this in writing - very insulting.

I was then referred to my GP - but I insisted that my hearing aids were checked and that I was scheduled for a hearing test. The specialist seemed very reluctant and I felt was quite aggressive. The hearing aids were snatched out of my hands several times, and the specialist finally tested.

I was then given an apology and told that indeed the volume and functions were not working. I was booked in for an appointment for a hearing test and the volume was increased for me. During the weeks I waited for the hearing test the volume was so loud the speakers distorted whenever anyone spoke to me. I was wincing from the noise. I did not complain as I knew this same, unprofessional person would be doing my hearing test and I felt very much at the mercy of one individual's bad temper.

On the next visit the consultant was extremely obsequious, found that indeed my hearing had worsened, and arranged new hearing aids. These worked well enough - but the impressions taken of my ears were so rough that they caused a sore. At this point I insisted on seeing someone else - who fixed them for me. My ear has now healed but I am still very reluctant to go back.

I didn't want to complain because I felt it might harm this person's career, and because in the end it is only my word against theirs, and because I was really upset. Surely surely anyone dealing with hearing impaired people should be trained to consult with them with hearing aids in? Surely they should know better than to talk like, in what was my opinion, a playgound bully? And I did go see my GP but they were as puzzled as I about why I was there.

On the whole the experience was not good. I don't think the person I saw was an audiologist, certainly not a doctor, probably trained in the technical aspects of hearing tests and hearing aid set up, but I do think these people should have some training, and clearly, periodic reminders about how to talk to people who have hearing problems.

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Response from Sentinel Healthcare

Dear DeafNOTdumb

Your story is very disheartening and I can understand from your opinion why this has been so upsetting for you.

In trying to help direct this issue appropriately and due to the points you have made it would seem as though Sentinel have booked your appointment with a provider dealing with hearing aids and testing and we would need to confirm with you where your appointment was held.

As Patient Opinion is anonymous I have no way of telling where your appointments were held and I wonder if you would be happy to provide me with details of your NHS number to allow me to investigate this with the correct department?

If you are happy to do this please email me on ply-pct.sentinel@nhs.net. This is a secure email address and your email will not be read by anyone outside of our team.

As a patient your experience has been awful and the way it has left you feeling is something no one would want to experience for themselves or anyone else, I hope you will be happy to contact us in order to prevent anyone else having this same experience. We will be able to establish who treated you at every appointment and ensure a response is made to you with an explanation from the relevant department.

With kind regards


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Update posted by DeafNOTdumb (the patient)

Hello Natalie,

I don't want to pursue a formal complaint because I fear this would compromise my future treatment. This experience has damaged my confidence in professional standards - the way I understand professionalism you leave your bad temper and sarcasm at home. I would suggest that you remind audiology staff:

Not to shout

Not to snatch

Not to disbelieve what they are told by the patients

Not to talk to anyone in that droning dummy voice

and To talk to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing with their hearing aids in.