Are you trying to determine whether to receive hearing aids from the National Health Service or to buy them privately? Customers from the real world share their opinions on the product.

hearing aid providers

Are you trying to determine whether to receive hearing aids from the National Health Service or to buy them privately? Customers from the real world share their opinions on the product. Hearing aids are provided by the NHS to the majority of patients. Should you prefer to pay privately for your hearing aid, though, given the increasing number of hearing aid specialists on our main streets?

Or should you take advantage of a third option that has emerged more recently and make use of the “Any Qualified Provider” programme to have the NHS cover the cost of your visit to a high street retailer?

To find this out, we conducted a survey among members of Which? as well as other adults who have recently obtained a hearing aid either through the National Health Service (NHS) or through a private provider. We inquired about their overall experience, from the beginning to the end of the process, and asked them to rate it.

The findings indicate that the majority of consumers in the UK are pleased with their hearing aid providers, regardless of whether they receive their care through the National Health Service or from a private company.

People who paid privately weren’t considerably more satisfied with their hearing aids (customer score of 80 percent), compared to those who acquired their hearing aids via the NHS. The poll included responses from 1,572 Which? members and other adults (customer score of 76 percent ) On the other hand, you might be astonished to find out that there is a difference between the people who go to high street shops like Hidden Hearing and Boots Hearcare and the people who go to the exact same retailers but have the National Health Service pay for their services.

The percentage of satisfied customers who paid privately was much higher (80%), compared to the percentage of satisfied customers who received payment from the NHS to go to a qualified private provider under the Any Qualified Provider scheme (71 percent satisfaction score).

In the table that follows, you will find a comparison of the National Health Service (NHS) versus private providers regarding various aspects of service. When deciding between two options, it is important to be aware of the various distinctions between them.

Comparison of the National Health Service and private providers of hearing aids

Hearing aids that are provided by the NHS as opposed to hearing aids that are purchased privately with Private Private (paid for by NHS – AQP) and NHS (hospital or clinic), respectively.

Waiting times 96 percent 91 percent 78 percent

Testing environment 97 percent 92 percent 95 percent

Staff 97 percent 91 percent 94 percent

Examination in great detail 99 percent 92 percent 96 percent

Product range 83 percent 31 percent 27 percent

95 percent of the hearing aids’ appearance 73 percent 70 percent

The ease of use of hearing aids 91 percent 75 percent 73 percent

Hearing aid suitability 93 percent 77 percent 73 percent

After-care 93 percent 78 percent 75 percent

Price 83 percent — —

Customer score  80 percent 71 percent 76 percent

Finding the appropriate hearing aids is essential.

The most notable contrast is found in the variety of hearing aids that are made available by the various service providers. The NHS received a score of 27 percent, which is lower than the 31 percent received by Any Qualified Provider (the NHS pays private stores) and the 83 percent received by private hearing aids.

This is interesting to explore in light of the fact that customers have access to the same brands whether they buy privately or on the NHS (although not the very latest models). In reality, there are only a limited number of brands available to consumers.

Approximately sixty percent of persons who went through the NHS and forty percent of people who went through the commercial sector had hearing aids from either Phonak, Oticon, or Siemens/Signia (and know what brand they have). One further factor that impacts customer satisfaction is after-care service. When purchasing a hearing aid, this often-overlooked but very important component is typically included in the cost of the device.

The National Health Service receives 75 percent, while the private enterprises that are paid for by the NHS receive 78 percent. However, the after-care provided by private businesses that are funded by individual customers is ranked at 93 percent. The most notable distinction between private and public provision of hearing aids is the breadth of options available in each. One individual who uses the NHS provided the following feedback: “I was not offered a range of aids, but the aids I have do the job, and they were free.” Another person chimed in and said, “I expected I would have an option of kind, style, and so on.” However, the NHS only provided me with one option to choose from.

This is not a grievance; rather, it is a statement of the facts. Another person shared their thoughts, stating, “I would recommend anyone who is thinking they need a hearing aid to go through NHS and get the free service. However, if you are happy with the results of having a hearing aid but want a smaller more discreet hearing aid, then you should go private and pay for one.” One response, however, echoed the sentiments of many other positive comments:

“My friends have been shocked to learn how amazing the hearing aids provided by the NHS are. It is not necessary to spend a significant amount of money to acquire quality hearing aids. During the epidemic caused by the coronavirus, several people brought up the provision made by the NHS: “I required new tubes for my hearing aids.” Because of COVID-19, I was unable to visit the nearby health centre.

After sending an email to the NHS Audiologist, I was promptly mailed a number of replacement tubes as well as batteries.

The information contained in our hearing aid pricing guide will clarify what you should anticipate spending at the most popular vendors.

NHS employees and facilities versus those of private companies

When you acquire a hearing aid from the NHS as opposed to buying one privately, you may anticipate having a different experience with the personnel in terms of their professionalism, ability to address issues and concerns, and level of education, as well as the thoroughness of their testing.

However, despite the fact that there were some disparities, the NHS and private merchants were both given ratings of well than 90 percent in these categories. And facilities were rated higher by private clients on factors including comfort, cleanliness, and level of privacy, but NHS scores were remained high in all categories combined (over 90 percent on the latter two measures).

Waiting times for both the NHS and private patients

Our findings are not entirely damning of the NHS, despite the fact that there are significant differences in waiting times for consultations and fittings across the sectors (a third of private customers went private for quicker waiting-times), but many people might expect that waiting times for consultations and fittings would be drastically different across the sectors.

Patients of the National Health Service (NHS) rated waiting times a customer score of 78 percent, whilst customers of private providers gave it a score of 96 percent and those who used the Any Qualified Provider plan gave it a score of 91 percent (NHS pays for you to go to a private retailer).

Two thirds of NHS patients who could recollect their waiting times reported that they were seen in the hospital within four weeks or less after a referral from their primary care physician (GP). This was the case for nine out of ten people whose general practitioner had referred them to a private store (AQP). After making an appointment, almost all of the customers who pay privately were seen within a span of four weeks.

Independent retailers, as opposed to those belonging to a chain, consistently receive the highest ratings among private suppliers. See our analysis of the performance of private hearing aid providers to learn how the major chains stacked up.

Hearing aids on the National Health Service versus private companies

Customers who purchased their hearing aids from private retailers provided much higher ratings for the hearing aids’ look, comfort, and suitability than customers who purchased their hearing aids from the NHS or any qualified provider (the NHS pays private retailers). It’s possible that this is because to the brand of hearing aids that clients purchase.

For instance, 88 percent of NHS customers get behind-the-ear hearing aids (open-fit or mould), while only 46 percent of private customers do. This difference could be due to a number of factors, such as the severity of hearing loss for NHS and private customers, but it’s important to note that the majority of NHS customers do get behind-the-ear hearing aids.