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“It can have long term consequences if people can’t hear. It impacts your health and your wellbeing.” 

Claire* (59 years old) lives with her husband in Northamptonshire and has Meniere’s disease and tinnitus. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with hearing loss and provided with a hearing aid. She noticed ear wax build up caused by wearing her hearing aids, but discovered there was no NHS removal service in her area.   

Claire pays £50 privately for earwax removal for each appointment. After seeing RNID’s campaign on the removal of earwax services in some areas of the UK, she was motivated to act and  wrote a letter to her local MP, Andrea Leadsom, last summer using a letter from RNID’s website asking for services to be reinstated.   

Andrea wrote back explaining that she had written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, asking for an urgent review. Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom was appointed minister for Health and Social services in November 2023.  

Joining RNID’s ear wax removal campaign

Claire explains her difficulties with ear wax removal and why she joined RNID’s campaign :  

“I would say it’s probably about 10 years since I was diagnosed with Meniere’s. You get horrible dizziness that comes with a complete loss of balance.  

Just before the pandemic, I became very aware that I was losing my hearing. I was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss and was given a hearing aid. I was given a new hearing aid this year, because my hearing had deteriorated quite a lot. I’m now severely deaf in my left ear.  

My ears now build up with wax. I rang the doctors about having it removed and they said they don’t offer it and I’d have to pay for it privately. I wasn’t happy with that as they used to offer it at my practice.    

I received a private appointment very quickly. It was £50 for both ears, and it was wonderful to hear again.   

When I couldn’t hear it was causing me social isolation. I am in the fortunate position that I can pay, but that isn’t the point, you shouldn’t have to pay extra for something that you should be entitled to or the NHS.”   

Dangerous and disorientating 

“I was going to work, and I just couldn’t hear because it’s a noisy environment. I started to say ‘pardon?’ all the time.  After a couple of weeks, I started cutting myself off because it was just awful. I couldn’t hear people and it was embarrassing.  

Simple things like crossing roads and not being able to hear traffic from both directions, it was dangerous and very disorientating.  I was turning the TV up. My husband wears two hearing aids, and he was having to take them out because the TV was so loud. Even being at home was a horrible experience because you know you’re being a nuisance.”  

Demanding change 

“When I heard back from my MP, I just thought it was a bit of a stock response. I had to chase a few times, after months of not hearing anything.  

The response was, ‘yes we probably need to look at this, we ought to do something, but whether we will or not is another matter’. I do think ‘yes, they do need to do something about this,’ but a big part of me just thinks, ‘it won’t come to anything.’  

I’d like Andrea Leadsom to ensure that having earwax removal is free under the NHS for those that need it. Anyone who’s got impacted earwax is going to be deaf. Having experienced it, I know how isolating, upsetting and embarrassing it feels to be constantly asking someone to repeat themselves and then still not understanding what they’re saying.  

I just want something done about it, so that it isn’t a postcode lottery and [ear wax removal services] are  available for all, for free. It can have long term consequences if people can’t hear. It impacts your health and your well-being. I would say that I became quite depressed. I certainly became quite emotional, which was probably to do with feeling quite down about it, because I couldn’t hear.” 

* Claire 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.
Email your local paper

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