NHS Dorset among worst places in England for ear wax removal

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 42 Integrated Care Boards (ICB) in England and says that NHS Dorset is not providing wax removal services in line with public health guidelines.

This is as they do not commission the service at all, leaving thousands of people living in silence or out of pocket if they have to pay for private treatment.

Only 18 ICBs in England said they fully commission ear wax removal services in line with guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), whilst 15 only partially commission services.

Victoria Boelman, director of insight and policy at RNID, said: “It’s absolutely wrong that people in England who need ear wax removal to be able to hear and take part in everyday life are being left to face painful and debilitating symptoms, forced to fork out for private treatment, or risk dangerous self-removal methods.”

People with ear wax build in Dorset are therefore left with no choice but to pay for the private removal, which can cost up to £100, or attempt to manage their ear wax themselves.

If done incorrectly, this can lead to infection, permanent hearing loss, ear canal or ear drum damage.  

Ear wax build up can cause painful and distressing symptoms – such as hearing loss, tinnitus and debilitating earache.

Hearing loss alone can lead to social isolation and increase the likelihood of mental health problems, and too much ear wax can delay or prevent essential hearing care, such as getting a hearing test or being fitted for a new hearing aid.

Mrs Boelman continues: “There is no medical reason for the withdrawal of this vital service, which is essential for 2.3 million people in the UK.

“This report exposes a horrifying reality for thousands of people being let down by commissioners who are neglecting public health guidelines.

“We’re calling for the Department of Health and Social Care to commission an urgent review to ensure that everyone who needs ear wax removal can access local NHS provision, whenever they need it.”

The Echo put these claims to NHS Dorset which issued the following statement regarding ear wax removal services in the county and what alternatives are being offered to patients in need.

A spokesperson for NHS said: “We can confirm that NHS Dorset does not commission ear syringing or ear wax removal, and it is not part of the core contract for primary care medical services.

“Patients assessed as clinically appropriate with more complex needs can be referred to Ear Nose & Throat services via the clinical pathway to receive ear micro-suction a more effective and safer alternative to ear irrigation. 

“An individual GP Practice may decide, based on individual patient assessments, to offer a service or to refer onto a local private established audiology provider based on clinical need.

“For further information on hearing loss including how to remove ear wax, patients may find the following guidelines helpful:


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