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MILLIONS of people with tinnitus are being denied access to key services needed to help manage their condition, according to charity Action on Hearing Loss.
One in 10 people in the UK are affected by tinnitus - ranging from a light buzzing to a constant roar in the ears and head - with 600,000 seriously affected by the condition, which can have a detrimental effect on quality of life from bouts of anxiety to difficulties socialising or concentrating at work and problems sleeping.
Freedom of Information requests, issued by the charity to every NHS adult audiology provider across the UK, reveals a postcode lottery of care for tinnitus patients with six audiology units not providing any tinnitus services at all and a further nine units having had to reduce services.
Chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, Paul Breckell, said: "Tinnitus can be a torturous condition, so it's deeply concerning that millions of patients do not have access to effective support services.
"NHS audiology and tinnitus provision must be protected, as short-term savings will only lead to higher NHS and social care costs in the long run. We need governments and commissioners to develop a forwardthinking plan that will enable frontline staff to deliver every patient the advice and support that they have the right to expect from our NHS."
The report shows little over half of providers (56%) offer access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is one of the most effective tinnitus treatments.
Action on Hearing Loss provides free sup-.port and information for people with tinnitus through its Tinnitus Information Line, 0808 808 6666, www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk