DOCTORS at Chesterfield Royal Hospital are to start charging patients to replace lost or damaged hearing aids.
The hospital’s audiology department currently spends about £30,000 a year replacing hearing aids.
Now bosses have decided to start charging wearers £85 if the devices have been either lost or damaged through neglect.
Deborah Farr, the hospital’s lead audiologist, said: “It was a difficult decision for us to take and we’ve held off charging for this for as long as possible.
“Replacing lost and damaged hearing aids costs the department £30,000 per year.
“This is no longer sustainable alongside maintaining the high level of service our patients have come to expect.
“The cost of £85 will only apply to damage or loss caused as a consequence of neglect.
“The trust makes no profit from this and the cost takes into account the replacement earmould, the custom-made nature of the hearing aid, the audiologist’s time, and materials.
“Issues caused by general wear and tear will be replaced at no cost and, of course, if a hearing aid is damaged after a time where it might reasonably be considered past its life expectancy, this will be replaced for free as well.”
The department has produced a YouTube video detailing how to clean, fit and replace the battery of a hearing aid to minimise the number of damaged devices.
Deborah said: “We’re trying to encourage people to look after their aids, take steps such as keeping them out of reach of children and pets.
“You need to clean them regularly, replace the batteries correctly, ensure they’re kept at room temperature away from damp conditions and keep it switched off when not in use.”
The charge comes into effect on April 1. To view the video, and get some tips about how to look after your hearing aid, log-on to www.youtube.com/TheChesterfieldRoyal