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Controversy over private hearing aid sellers in Brighton

Specsavers are under investigation

Wednesday 7 August
Controversy over private hearing aid sellers in Brighton

- August 07 at 7:30 AM

A decision to allow private companies to provide NHS hearing aid services in Brighton and Hove is under investigation.

The unions GMB, Unison and Unite have issued a collective grievance against Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust bosses this week for not applying for the contract late last year.

High street chain Specsavers has been carrying out tests and fitting hearing aids at two locations in the city since February.

Services are also being provided by Bloom Hearing Specialists Ltd and InHealth Ltd in other areas of Brighton and Hove. The service was previously run by the hospital trust.
 
Last year, NHS Sussex took the decision to tender out hearing aid services for the over 55s and invite interested organisations to bid for the contract.

The hospital trust said it did not apply as it could not compete with the private sector. However it still provides services for children, people with complex hearing problems and care for patients with special needs.

But unions say there was not enough consultation with public and staff over the decision and how the changes might affect them.

The trust will now investigate the grievance and unions are waiting to be given a hearing.

The GMB said union members would what decide what steps to take next if they are unhappy with the result, but nothing was being ruled out at this stage.

GMB organiser Gary Palmer said: “Staff also have to work under the stress from wondering if their jobs are at risk when the trust finally evaluates the required staffing levels for what remains of the audiology service provision at the trust.

“We want to bring to the public’s attention that the relevant NHS bodies should have undertaken a genuine consultation with the public at a formative stage.”

A trust spokesman said: “As part of a move nationally to offer patients greater choice and relocate services closer to people’s homes, NHS Sussex decided last year to contract with a number of NHS-accredited independent sector companies to provide hearing aid services to adults with normal, age-related hearing loss.”

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