The British Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have updated the hearing loss toolkit they developed in 2020/21. Hosted on the RCGP website, it gives primary care practitioners easy access to information for when a patient has concerns.  

Funded by BIHIMA, the toolkit also provides guidance about making GP surgeries hearing-loss friendly. The 2024 iteration of the project adds subject areas that are key to understanding hearing loss and associated conditions. 

BIHIMA Chairman Paul Surridge (left) said the update was important because the landscape had changed so much: “It now includes information and training on subjects such as dementia and hearing loss, tinnitus management, balance and vertigo, and paediatric audiology. It also shares guidance on screening and evaluation of hearing loss, a vital first assessment for many who go to their GP surgery for help when experiencing deafness or dizziness. 

The funding has enabled RCGP to move the toolkit to a new section on its website, a specially designed hub that provides easier use and navigation. 

Dr Devina Maru (right), a practising GP with a specialist interest in ENT, is the lead for the project and has written the toolkit content. She said: “As a GP, I want to empower people with hearing loss, to enable them to fully participate in their health care from initial consultation to ongoing treatment. I am passionate about raising awareness and educating GPs and trainees to help reduce current variations in accessibility to GP practices. The newly improved and expanded toolkit is an important step in doing that.” 

Dr Maru said the toolkit had some fundamental aims: These include reducing health inequalities and improving accessibility, supporting innovation in tackling hearing loss, improving awareness of professional guidance among GPs and their teams and helping to evolve GP training. 

She added: “We know that patients can present hearing loss in various ways a decrease in the ability to hear sounds may not be the main presenting complaint. Memory loss, sensitivity to loud noises, social withdrawal, changes to balance and experiences of depression and anxiety are just some of the signs that we regularly see. Early detection and intervention can significantly improve outcomes and quality of life for those with hearing loss, and we hope the toolkit will contribute to this.” 

View the deafness and hearing loss toolkit here.