NHS South West London report on the Hearing Health Pathway Pilot with TympaHealth

NHS South West London ICB published an independent evaluation report on the Hearing Health Pathway Pilot – 02.02.2024

NHS South West London Integrated Care Board (NHS SWL ICB) recognised a lack of free and equitable NHS hearing health services in the area.

To address this need, NHS SWL introduced a 12-month hearing health pilot pathway across 20 community pharmacies.

Once completion of their training, pharmacy staff were able to perform digital otoscopy, earwax removal and hearing checks for patients that had been referred by their GP practice for hearing health issues.

NHS England followed the pilot closely and appointed NHS South, Central and West (NHS SCW) to conduct an independent evaluation to establish key learnings, outcomes and the impact of the pilot to inform the commissioning of similar services in the future. 

The evaluation

The pilot was assessed over the last 12 months, focusing on five key dimensions for evaluation:

  • Acceptability of the piloted service to stakeholders and patients
  • Usability of the service and technology
  • Safety of the overall pathway and technology
  • Feasibility and enablers of implementing a hearing health service in a community pharmacy setting
  • Sustainability of the pilot pathway and technology when considering future rollouts and at-scale commissioning.

The evaluation involved analysing patient activity data across almost 8,000 patient records and insights were generated from over 500 patient surveys.

Healthcare professionals involved in the pilot also fed back through seven virtual focus groups, over 100 ‘temperature check’ surveys and 19 targeted one-to-one interviews.

Key outcomes

The evidence from the evaluation showed the pilot to be a sustainable and effective service in addressing local patients’ hearing health needs.

SWL Pilot Key outcomes TympaHealthv2
"The Hearing Health pilot highlights the benefits of integrated clinical pathways. This locally commissioned initiative focuses on collaborative efforts between GP practices and community pharmacies to enhance ear care, as well as developing the skills of the pharmacy team."
David Webb - Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, NHS England

Pilot feedback

Based on the data gathered throughout the evaluation process the pilot outcomes were deemed to be overwhelmingly positive:

Patient Experience

  • 99% of patients reporting they were happy with the service received
  • 98% would recommend this service to family and friends
  • £262,079 net savings across the pilot period. Generating net savings per patient (who would otherwise have received treatment in secondary care) was £49.01
  • 95% of all professional stakeholders rated their experience as ‘Very Good’ and ‘Good’ and the majority would recommend the service if commissioners were considering implementing it elsewhere.

The advantages of delivering this service within a community setting were widely accepted by most professional staff and stakeholder teams, who considered it beneficial for patients.

NHS South West London report on the Hearing Health Pathway Pilot

"It has been a privilege to co-lead this innovative pilot in SWL. We have worked collaboratively as a health system, transcending traditional boundaries of primary and secondary care to create a hearing health pathway that not only benefits our patients in SWL but can be replicated across the country."
Dr Aditi Shah - South West London ENT Network Co-Lead & GP