With Ireland’s HSE due to reform, is hearing-care likely to be outsourced to high-street providers of community audiology services? A possible model in the UK is where Specsavers Hearing centres have dedicated NHS Hearcare teams operating in a community-type setting for universal social benefit.
Recently, the Irish Independent quoted 7,181 adults and 6,412 children to be waiting for a hearing test in Ireland. Many hearing-aid providers in the country have a branch network. HSE waiting lists for hearing-tests could be shortened by teaming with high-street providers, as the NHS did in the UK.
As the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) undergoes its scheduled reforms, more local GPs can buy niche healthcare in their local boroughs. The main benefit to clients of all ages, is service-provision in the local community and not in hospitals or specialist clinics, which may require clients to travel.
UK-based GPs who join local pilots will be able to buy niche healthcare in their local area, whether this is from the NHS, a private firm or a charity.
The term ‘niche healthcare’ can refer to hearing-care and eye-care, which in Ireland is delivered by service providers from both Ireland and the UK.
Current HSE rules prevent the negotiation of contracts or fees, but so much could be gained if similar niche healthcare models became viable in Ireland.
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