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Can I buy hearing aids privately?

Photo: All hearing aid dispensers should be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The NHS supplies a range of good quality digital hearing aids and all deaf children who live in the UK are entitled to free hearing aids through their local audiology service.

You may choose to buy your child’s hearing aids privately but try to keep in touch with your child’s NHS audiologist where possible. This means your child can use NHS audiology services as and when they need them.

If you decide to buy your child’s hearing aids, you may want to think about the following:

  • buying hearing aids privately is very expensive
  • most private hearing aid dispensers don’t work with children so you’ll need to be sure that they’ve been trained to fit hearing aids to children
  • all hearing aid dispensers should be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The HCPC regulates health professionals in the UK in order to protect the public and make sure that the professional is working to current standards.

You can check if your hearing aid dispenser is registered by going to www.hcpc-uk.co.uk and using the ‘check the register’ tool.

Some hearing aid dispensers have a money-back guarantee so that you can return the hearing aids within a set time if they aren’t suitable. It may take your child a while to get used to the sound levels of the new aid, so the guarantee period should be at least six weeks.

You’ll need to ask whether a follow-up service is included in the price or if you have to pay separately. For example, the hearing aids may need to be fine-tuned after several weeks. 

Growing children also need new earmoulds at regular intervals and batteries will need to be replaced regularly.

You’ll need to know whether the aids have a warranty, how long this lasts for and what repairs are covered, and how quickly you can get replacement hearing aids from the hearing aid dispenser.

You’ll need to think about asking for the T programme facility if your child uses a loop system and/or the direct audio input facility if your child uses a radio aid.

You may also need to consider whether any support services that you use, such as a Teacher of the Deaf, have experience of supporting children with different types of hearing aids.

You may want to insure the hearing aids. You can sometimes do this under your household contents insurance but, as one digital aid can cost up to £2,000, you’ll need to check that your household insurance will cover this for a single item. You’ll also need to know how quickly your insurance company could process an insurance claim if your child lost or damaged their hearing aids.

Some people consider buying hearing aids abroad. If you decide to do this, you’ll need to know whether a follow-up service is provided in the UK and what would happen if the hearing aid broke down.

Bear in mind that the hearing aids might need to be fine-tuned after they’re fitted, so you may have to return for another visit.

You should be careful of hearing aid adverts and promotional literature, as these may make claims about features or performance that aren’t relevant for your child.

Checklist for parents buying hearing aids
  • The hearing aid dispenser is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
  • The hearing aids can be used with a loop system and have a direct audio input facility (if needed).
  • The hearing aid dispenser has given me written details of the prices and the warranty period. The hearing aid dispenser has given me written details of the trial period.
  • The hearing aid dispenser has given me written details of the follow-up service, including the cost of new earmoulds and batteries.
  • The hearing aid dispenser has told me who to contact if the hearing aids need repairing or servicing.
  • The support services that my child uses will be able to support my child using these hearing aids.
  • I have insured the aids against accidental damage and loss. I have checked how quickly the aids can be replaced if they’re lost.
Private providers of hearing aids

Private providers of hearing aids who hold both NHS and private qualifications and have experience of working with children.