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NHS Hearing Aids UK & NHS Hearing Aid Upgrades

NHS hearing aids compared to private


Thinking about free NHS hearing aids?  Thinking of upgrading your NHS hearing aids and not sure whether going private would be better?

Here we have compiled a brief informative page to help you make the right decision for you, your lifestyle, your needs and the level of your hearing loss. 

Answering questions such as:  

  • Do NHS hearing aids have Bluetooth?
  • How much do NHS hearing aids cost?
  • Are NHS hearing aids any good?
  • Or should I upgrade my NHS hearing aids?
  • Are NHS hearing aids available locally?


Below is a quick reference to some of the disadvantages of NHS hearing aids in the UK or call us free on 0800 567 7621 for more information, support and advice.


NHS hearing aids are free, but you don't own your devices
The choice of hearing aid styles and models are limited
You will be charged if you lose your hearing aid
The waiting time from referral to treatment is long
Looking to upgrade your NHS hearing aids to private ones?
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NHS Hearing Aids

NHS Hearing Aids UK & Upgrades

Not sure whether going private would be better?


Thinking about NHS hearing aids? 

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom provides hearing aids to eligible individuals at no cost. To be eligible for an NHS hearing aid, you must have a hearing loss that is severe enough to affect your daily life and communication. In addition, you must be a resident of the UK and registered with a GP.

If you think you might be eligible for an NHS hearing aid, you can speak with your GP or an audiologist to see if you meet the criteria. If you are eligible, you will be referred to an NHS audiology service, where you will be assessed and fitted with a hearing aid.

The type of hearing aid you receive will depend on your needs and preferences, as well as the availability of different models.  However, the NHS does not cover the cost of certain types of hearing aids, such as those that are cosmetic or designed for use in specific environments such as in water. 

In these cases, you will need to go private for your hearing healthcare and hearing aids to gain access to all hearing aid models, the latest hearing aid technology, and modern styles.


Diagnosis is the key to better hearing

We are an independent company that provides private hearing aids and hearing healthcare.  However, we know how important researching all the avenues for hearing aids is, so we have compiled a brief informative page to help you make the right decision for you, your lifestyle, your needs, and the level of your hearing loss.

If you think your hearing has changed, then you must get your hearing checked as soon as possible.  Your local GP or Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) centre can detect any problems like hearing loss, infection, or illness.  Hearing tests are free on the NHS, but if you need specialist treatment – your ENT department will undertake this for you.


Comparison means confident decision making

Your local ENT department can discuss the hearing healthcare options available to you from the NHS, as well as the NHS hearing aids currently on offer.  Like with all healthcare services, there is always value in comparisons. 

Exploring the private hearing healthcare route is equally as important, as we feel it is always beneficial to compare services with a second opinion to make a more valuable and confident choice for your hearing future.

We know that independent audiologists, like us, were rated 86% in the recent 2023 Which Report? by patients in regards to the service and hearing aids purchased.  We also know, from experience, that patients feel less like a number and more valued as individuals when they opt for private care. 


Every hearing loss is different

Your hearing loss is just as unique as you and deserves the right treatment with the right hearing aid provider.  However, we understand that every person is different, and what might suit someone might not be right for the next.   

There are so many factors when considering private or  NHS hearing aids - you have to weigh up what's the most important to you in regards to your hearing.  For example, hearing aid brands, types, connectivity, aftercare, price, and much more.


 NHS Hearing Aids UK

Are NHS hearing aids any good?

The PROS & CONS of Both

CONS of NHS Hearing Aids

  • The choice of styles and features of NHS hearing aids are very limited and more often than not, you'll be offered a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid.  This could be either an open-fit device or an ear mould. 
  • There are also only a few areas that can offer receiver-in-the-canal NHS hearing aids (RIC).  Check with your local NHS provider to see what styles are available in your area.
  • Whilst NHS hearing aids are free they do incur a charge if you lose them, as you don't own your devices and you are liable to pay for a replacement.
  • There is quite a long waiting list to be seen by your local NHS audiologist, the maximum is currently 18 weeks from referral to treatment (i.e receiving your hearing aids).  It will also depend on your location.

PROS of NHS Hearing Aids

  • So, NHS hearing aids are they free?  Yes, NHS hearing aids are free of charge.
  • Will I get a follow-up appointment with the NHS?  Yes, you get free follow-up appointments, repairs, and batteries for the life of your NHS hearing aids.
  • Can I get NHS hearing aids at home?  Some NHS hearing aid providers offer audiology drop-in clinics for aftercare and even home visits can be arranged.  This often depends on where you live, so check with your local NHS audiology department.
  • Are NHS hearing aids Bluetooth compatible?  Yes, NHS hearing aids are digital hearing aids as standard.

PROS of Private Hearing Aids

  • If you go private you will have access to a full range of digital hearing aids on the market - from behind-the-ear (BTE) to ITE styles that are pretty much impossible to see.
  • You will also have access to the most advanced and innovative technology available, with beneficial features for your hearing loss.
  • All models available with your private audiologist will be digital and include Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Your hearing experience will be tailor made by your hearing care professional to suit your hearing loss perfectly.
  • Book all your hearing healthcare appointments at your convenience.
  • You will be seen quickly with private hearing healthcare and then receive your hearing aids within the week on average.  This all depends on whether the hearing aids you chose are a bespoke fit or not. If they need to be tailor-made, ear moulds will need to be taken and sent off to the manufacturer.
  • Private audiologists offer free hearing tests and home visits to all their patients wherever they live.
  • You'll see the same audiologist for all your hearing healthcare appointments with more time to explore hearing aids, treatment, and follow-up appointments.

CONS of Private Hearing Aids

  • People are generally put off by the price of hearing aids, but in reality, you will be advised on all the hearing aids available that will suit you the most - that doesn't mean you'll need the most expensive device.


  • You will have to pay for your hearing batteries unless the hearing aids you chose are rechargeable models.


  • Your hearing aid will need replacing, on average, at least every four years - so it is more than a one-off investment.



Please remember our PROS and CONS for private hearing healthcare are based on our ethos and services. 


Not all private audiologists will offer home visits either for free or at all.  Check with your provider at your first point of call.

NHS hearing aid upgrades

Upgrading your NHS hearing aids to private hearing aids

Thinking of switching to private hearing healthcare and hearing aids?  If you have an NHS hearing aid and you would like to upgrade to a private hearing aid, you will need to pay for the upgrade yourself.  The cost of a private hearing aid can vary depending on the brand, model, and features you choose.

To upgrade to a private hearing aid, you will need to visit a private audiologist who will professionally assess your hearing and recommend a suitable hearing aid based on your hearing needs and preferences. 

Upgrading NHS hearing aids

All our hearing aid prices include test, fitting, programming, follow-up appointments, aftercare, and much more

You will then be able to choose from a range of private hearing aids and pay for the one you want.  If you decide to upgrade to a private hearing aid, it's important to keep in mind that you will no longer be eligible for free repairs and maintenance from the NHS.  

However, unlike some hearing aid providers - all our hearing aid prices include tests, fitting, programming, follow-up appointments, and aftercare.  There are no extra charges or hidden nasties!

►Click here to learn about what's included in our prices

NHS Hearing Aids

NHS Hearing Aids UK & Upgrades

NHS hearing aids reviews


Want more information about NHS vs private hearing healthcare?

The below link is a great source of reference if you are wondering about questions such as: what do NHS hearing aids look like? or what is the NHS hearing aids eligibility? and more.  Because quite a lot of our patients come to us after wearing NHS hearing aids we can also give our honest NHS hearing aids review from our audiologists.

The below article is designed to just give you a taste of information surrounding NHS hearing aids and private hearing aids and healthcare - because there is so much more! Click on the following link to read our article that talks about this topic in more detail.


►Click here to read more about NHS hearing aids vs private

►Click here to read about what private hearing healthcare services we offer


Looking for NHS hearing aids near me?

You must receive the right information from the start when you are researching who to purchase your hearing aids from.  From experience, before we appoint our patients, we ask them to write down any questions or anxieties about their hearing, hearing aids, or future hearing care needs.

You might even want to bring along a friend or family member to support you during this process and any decision-making.  As we said previously, it is always beneficial to see what the NHS and private services have to offer you - then you can make a more informed choice.


What can my local NHS hearing aid provider do for me?

Are your NHS hearing aids not working?  Wherever you live, there will be an NHS hearing aid centre local to you that can help you repair your devices.  To find out where your nearest resource is, head to the NHS website for more information.

The NHS provides a commendable service to the hearing loss community and during your appointment, they can give you information such as:


  1. The best NHS hearing aids available
  2. NHS hearing aids cleaning and maintenance
  3. NHS hearing aids instructions
  4. NHS hearing aids volume controls
  5. NHS hearing aids batteries & NHS hearing aids domes
  6. NHS hearing aids at home services & aftercare
  7. NHS hearing aids Boots
  8. NHS hearing aids Specsavers


 Upgrading your NHS hearing aids

NHS Hearing Aid Upgrades

What about upgrading your existing NHS hearing aid with a new one?


For when you need new NHS hearing aids

On the other hand, if you have an NHS hearing aid and you would like to upgrade to a different model, you will need to speak with your audiologist to see if this is possible. In general, the NHS will only allow you to upgrade your hearing aid if you have a medical need for a different model. For example, if your hearing loss has changed or if you need a hearing aid with additional features that are not available on your current model.

To upgrade your hearing aid, you will need to request an assessment with an audiologist. During the assessment, the audiologist will determine whether an upgrade is necessary and, if so, which model is most suitable for your needs. If you are approved for an upgrade, the NHS will provide you with a new hearing aid at no cost.

►Click here to go to the top of the page

NHS Hearing Aids Near Me

We can support your hearing healthcare needs locally

If you think you or a loved one's hearing has changed, don't delay seeing an audiologist to test how well you're hearing.  An early diagnosis is essential to your quality of life and to ensure treatment is as successful as possible.  Call free on 0800 567 7621 to speak with one of our audiologists.  We are open 8am - 8pm, 7 days a week

Read Next:

►NHS vs Private Hearing Aids

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This information was written by Paul Harrison - Audiology Expert

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert & Founder

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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Top 3 common FAQs about NHS hearing aid upgrades

How long will to see a private audiologist?

A private company can usually see you much quicker, within a week or two, for the initial test and creating a mould. Depending on the style of hearing aid you choose you could wait between one and three weeks for your digital hearing aid to be fitted.

How long will it take to be seen by an audiologist with the NHS?

Whilst the NHS is reducing their waiting times, you could still wait around six weeks for your hearing test and a further six weeks for them to be fitted. This will vary depending on which part of the country you live in.

Is aftercare free with the NHS?

Although free, there is a need for a more structured and beneficial plan with follow-up appointments, maintenance checks and future monitoring with the patient and NHS. Aftercare is just as important as the original diagnosis itself. You and your hearing loss needs can alter over time and it is important that your hearing abilities are checked regularly so that your hearing aids are working to their full potential.

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