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“My only option is to go privately, which I can’t afford.” 

Susan* (73 years old) needs ear wax removal multiple times a year, but with no NHS service in her area, she is left isolated and worried.

Susan lives in London and has moderate hearing loss. Ear wax build-up has caused her increasing deafness, and she now avoids social situations for fear of confusion and embarrassment.  

Her hearing aid is no longer sufficient. Despite this, her GP will not refer her to an audiologist for an assessment for a new one until she has had the ear wax removal procedure done, which is not available at her surgery. Her only option is to go privately, which she can’t afford.  

Susan’s world has shrunk. She has no choice but to withdraw due to the ear wax build up causing increased hearing loss.  

Susan shares her story:

“I was getting ear wax removal through a removal training program run at my local hospital supervised by an audiologist. There was too big a gap between booking the appointment and getting another one that my ears would just block up again.  

I’ve now been told by audiology at the hospital that I can no longer receive removal and I need a referral from the GP. The GP won’t refer me as they say the service isn’t available, and my only option is to go privately, which I can’t afford. I need 3 to 4 treatments a year, and my pension won’t stretch that far. 

It means that in one of my ears I can hear almost nothing. I can’t distinguish speech. It’s now a challenge to go shopping and I’m avoiding social situations. I’ve withdrawn, I’m constantly making excuses as to why I can’t attend a social situation. I won’t take up invitations now, only social situations that are one-on-one. 

It’s very isolating and I’m worried about my cognitive decline. I’ve noticed a difference in my memory; I’m forgetting words and can’t remember things. It’s a real worry.” 

* Susan is using an alias. 

Demand change

Help us demand change – email your local paper and ask them to join RNID’s call for an urgent government review of NHS wax removal services.
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