Private or NHS hearing care?

Hearing care options in the UK

UK citizens can choose to invest in hearing devices privately or get them for free via the NHS.


Private Dispensers must be qualified and registered with the Health Care and Professions Council to carry out their work. They have RHAD after their name, which stands for Registered Hearing Aid Dispenser. Other letters after a dispensers name such as MSHAA, FSHAA show that they are members of professional bodies.  

Buying privately gives you more choice about hearing device styles, cosmetics, and access to the very latest hearing technology and accessories. Private digital hearing devices are available to suit most budgets with the various models accommodating differing lifestyles and needs.

Appointments for private hearing care are often available within in a few days and will be made at times that are suitable for you. Home visit appointments are often available for those who find this more convenient.



To obtain a hearing device via the NHS, you will initially need to speak to your GP who will then refer you to your local Audiology department for an assessment. Should you require a hearing device, you will be issued with a free standard behind-the-ear hearing device. In the past waiting times for NHS Audiology appointments were lengthy, but currently you would expect to be seen within a few months. Find out about the Dorset Audiology Service.


Any Qualified Provider (AQP)

Since April 2012 the introduction of the Any Qualified Provider scheme means that, patients with a hearing range that would benefit from a hearing device, will be able to choose from a range of approved providers including high street retailers.
These services are free for patients to use based on their needs as discussed with their GP. To date this scheme has yet to be set up in the Dorset area for adult hearing services.