North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has restricted access to NHS funded hearing aids.
The decision will take effect from September and affect approximately 500 new patients a year, saving around £200,000 in the first full year.
North Staffordshire originally proposed to withdraw funding for hearing aids for people with mild to moderate age related hearing loss in June, after an internal prioritisation process weighing up the clinical value of the service recommended it should be decommissioned.
However, it was forced to delay its decision following opposition from audiology professionals and charities, and local authority scrutiny committees.
At a meeting of its governing board last week, the CCG approved a watered down version of its original proposals.
The CCG will no longer routinely fund hearing aids for patients with hearing loss between 26 and 40 decibels – classed as ‘mild’ hearing loss.
Those with ‘moderate’ hearing loss of 41-55 decibels will be eligible for an NHS funded device so long as they score sufficiently highly in a “functional impact assessment”.