The Specsavers hearing centre in High Street, Sidcup, has been accredited to provide a free NHS adult audiology services, from initial assessment through to provision of hearing aids and aftercare.
Sidcup MP James Brokenshire visited the hearing centre on Friday 7 December to help raise awareness of hearing loss and the new NHS partnership.
Commenting on the visit, James Brokenshire said: "Hearing loss can lead to people becoming isolated and withdrawn. By making these services more accessible there is a real opportunity to transform peoples quality of life. That's why I support this initiative to make it easier to get a hearing test and to receive specialist support on the High Street."
The South London region is one of the first in England to undergo this revolutionary change, offering those in the area greater choice and more convenience when it comes to appointment times to see an audiologist on the NHS.
The accreditation follows a tender process under the Any Qualified Provider scheme. AQP means that, for some conditions such as hearing loss, patients will be able to choose from a range of approved providers, such as hospitals or high street hearing centres.
Kiran Kaur, audiologist at Specsavers in Sidcup, says: ‘Being awarded the AQP contract for the South London area means we can now pass on the many benefits this brings to our local community, which is pioneering.
‘Through this contract we are able to break down barriers and encourage people to regard their hearing in the same way they do their eyesight – giving patients greater access to services through our stores on the high street.
‘One in six people¹ currently suffer in silence from hearing loss but, by making the service more accessible on behalf of the NHS, we can help to remove the stress and worry associated with the condition so that people can live their lives to the full.
‘People over the age of 55 in Sidcup will have greater choice; they will be able to visit their local high street and enjoy a service more suited to individual needs.’
Patients will continue to access the same quality of care, free of charge, as they would have previously with the NHS.
To receive treatment at Specsavers in Sidcup patients will first need to see their GP to request a referral to their local store.
Specsavers won its first contract to supply hearing services to NHS patients with Tees PCT in 2007. Following the success of the pilot and extremely positive feedback from patients, further commissioning of private sector suppliers was recommended. There are currently more than 440 Specsavers hearing centres nationwide, based within optical stores as well as working out of community health centres, hospitals and GP practices across the UK.
For further information or to book an appointment please contact Specsavers Sidcup on 020 8308 3500 or at http://www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/sidcup-hearing