FINANCE: Proposals by North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to cut funding for hearing aids have been opposed by a local authority scrutiny committee.

The CCG announced in June it was seeking views on a plan to withdraw public funding for hearing aids for people with mild to moderate age related hearing loss - the majority of people who use the devices.

It took its proposal last week to the Healthy Staffordshire select committee, one of the bodies responsible for scrutinising health matters in the area. Following questions and a debate, committee members proposed a motion that said: “This committee is unable to accept the CCG proposals as they stand.”

The committee was almost unanimous in its opposition to the plan, with 11 members supporting the motion, one voting against it and one abstaining.

If the CCG does not accept the motion, the committee can refer it to the health secretary.

The proposals were also due to be presented at Newcastle-under-Lyme health and wellbeing committee and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council health and community overview and scrutiny panel before the end of last month.

In a statement Marcus Warnes, chief operating officer at North Staffordshire CCG, said: “The CCG welcomed the opportunity to present its proposals… and the findings of the engagement process it has conducted to the Healthy Staffordshire select committee.”

Mr Wane said the CCG was yet to make a decision on the plans, and feedback from the three committees will be “helpful in shaping the CCG’s proposals”.

The plans will be considered at a meeting of the North Staffordshire CCG governing board in November.

Paul Breckell, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, which has coordinated opposition to the plans, said: “We are pleased that the concerns of our supporters, local people and healthcare organisations have been taken into account, and that the scrutiny committee has voted against the CCG’s current proposals to make cuts to the provision of free NHS hearing aids.

“They offer a lifeline to many, especially older people with hearing loss who could otherwise be isolated at home, unable to communicate with the outside world.

“All eyes are now on the CCG as we await their response to the committee’s recommendations against these short-sighted cuts.”