GP practices should provide earwax removal services rather than referring patients to specialists, according to the latest NICE recommendations.
The adult hearing loss guidelines, released today, said that if earwax is contributing to hearing loss or needs to be removed for an ear examination, practices or community clinics should provide the service rather than referring them to an ears, nose and throat specialist for the same procedure.
But the BMA's GP Committee said this guidance 'places no obligations on GPs to provide this service unless contracted to do so', and suggested CCGs needed to commission the service separately.
The new NICE hearing loss guidance also recommends that GPs:
NICE has estimated that 2.3 million people in the UK each year have problems with earwax sufficient to need intervention.
A spokesperson said: ‘The NICE guideline aims to help improve care for people with hearing loss through better management of earwax, prompt and accurate referral of people with symptoms to the right service at the right time, and robust assessment and correct treatment.
‘It recommends that GP surgeries or community clinics should offer to remove earwax if a build-up is contributing to someone’s hearing loss. This means patients do not need to be referred to a specialist ear, nose and throat (ENT) service for the same procedure.’
They added that if a patient experiences sudden hearing loss without an obvious cause, they should be referred immediately to a specialist service or an emergency department.
However GPC clinical and prescribing policy lead Dr Andrew Green responded: 'NICE is responsible for clinical guidance but have nothing to do with commissioning services which are the responsibility of CCGs.
'The fact that NICE recommends something as suitable for primary care places no obligations on GPs to provide this service unless contracted to do so.'
This just doesn’t exist.
got sudden total hearing loss in one ear, no treatment from gp. Had to wait a week to see if it returned, it didn’t. Got referred to ent that took three months, sent for Mri that took another two months, another month to see ent for results, now another three months to see another different kind of ent for lesion found on mri.
waitd to see audiologist for six months, now been waiting to have my new hearing aids fitted for two months with no date in sight.
my gp put a notice up that they will no longer be offering earwax removal, and we are advised to contact a private provider. But they will not give ant recommendations.
the NHS regarding hearing care is in an appalling condition