How can I get an NHS hearing aid?

If you’re concerned about your hearing, see your GP, who can refer you to a specialist, such as:

  • an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist 
  • a hearing specialist (audiologist), particularly if you’re over 60
  • a clinic run by audiology staff at your GP surgery, local hospital or health centre

The specialist will assess your hearing to find the cause of your hearing loss. Some people may not need a hearing aid – for example, if an ear infection affects your hearing temporarily.

NHS hearing aids

If the specialist advises that you need a hearing aid, they’ll recommend the most suitable type. Hearing aids can be analogue or digital, depending on the type of technology they use to process sound. 

NHS hearing aids include:

  • behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids; these have an earmould that sits inside your ear and the rest sits behind your ear  
  • body-worn hearing aids; these have a small box containing the microphone that clips to your clothes or goes in your pocket, and a lead connecting the box to an earmould 
  • bone conduction hearing aids; these use a special removable headband to deliver sound by vibrations through the skull 
  • bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA); these are a type of bone conduction hearing aid, which require a permanent surgical implant in the bone behind your ear
  • CROS (contralateral routing of signals) and BiCROS hearing aids; these are for people with hearing in only one ear and work by transmitting sound from the side with no hearing to your hearing ear

See hearing impairment for more information on hearing aids and Cochlear Implants.

Other hearing aids

Some types of hearing aid are not available on the NHS, such as:

  • in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
  • in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
  • completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids

Read more on the types of hearing aids.

Getting an NHS hearing aid

Your specialist will make an impression of your ear for the earmould. You’ll need to return a few weeks after this to have your hearing aid fitted. Some types of hearing aid, called an "open ear fitting", don’t require an earmould.

These may be fitted the same day as you have your hearing tests.

Your hearing aid will be adjusted to suit your level of hearing loss, and you’ll be shown how to use and care for it. You’ll be invited for a follow-up appointment in about eight weeks.

NHS hearing aids and new batteries are free. If you lose your hearing aid or damage it, you may be asked to pay towards the cost of repairing or replacing it. 

Getting a hearing aid privately

In the UK, all hearing aid dispensers must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

If you decide to buy a hearing aid privately, make sure you consult a qualified registered hearing aid dispenser. They should have the letters RHAD (Registered Hearing Aid Dispenser) after their name.  

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.

Further information:


Deafness: Susan's story

Watch Susan's story. She talks about how attitudes to deafness have changed and says deafness needn't stop you from having a successful career.

Media last reviewed: 20/02/2015

Next review due: 20/02/2017

Page last reviewed: 05/02/2015

Next review due: 04/02/2017