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Royal National Institute for Deaf People Website

Department of Health Website


Friday 18 June 2004


RNID, the largest organisation representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, yesterday won the prestigious Best Overall Charity Award for excellence in charity management for transforming an NHS Cinderella service. They also won the Healthcare and Medical Research Award. The Charity Awards are the premier awards recognising achievement in the Charity Sector and are organised by Charity Finance Magazine. Following a high impact campaign RNID has been managing the modernisation at over 300 hospitals across England, increasing patient satisfaction and delivering radical change to audiology services.

John Low, Chief Executive of RNID, comments, “It is great news that RNID’s work on behalf of millions of people who need a hearing aid has been recognised by these two awards. Our work overwhelmingly demonstrates that the charity sector can have a huge impact on people’s lives. Campaigning for change in the NHS and then modernising a Cinderella service demonstrates what the voluntary sector can achieve in partnership with Government to radically improve the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people. We were effective because we didn’t whinge and come up with more problems, but instead offered solutions.”

On receiving the awards last night, James Strachan, Chairman of RNID said, “This is a great tribute not only to so many who work within RNID but also to so many of our colleagues in the NHS. We, the voluntary sector, must become less timid in our dealings with Government. We need to show them how together we can change the world. I hope this public recognition will encourage many other charities to do the same.”

In 1999 RNID research revealed that NHS audiology services were neglected and under funded. While five million people in the UK would benefit from having a hearing aid, only two million had one. And one third of the people who did have a hearing aid didn’t use them because they struggled with outdated technology, which delivered poor sound quality and limited hearing benefit.

As a result, RNID mounted a major lobbying campaign to persuade the Government to offer more funding to audiology and eventually £125 million was committed to modernise audiology services in England over five years. RNID believed they were effective in their approach as they offered solutions, not just problems.

Ministers then asked RNID to manage the modernisation programme in partnership with the Department of Health. This was the first time a voluntary organisation had been asked to form a management partnership to deliver major change within the NHS.

A key component of the modernisation was achieving a radical reduction in the price of digital hearing aids. RNID led smarter procurement methods to secure modern digital hearing aids free of charge on the NHS. Using the bulk purchasing power of the NHS RNID negotiated a price of £55. Previously digital aids were only dispensed privately often costing up to £2,000 or more.

To date 267,000 advanced digital hearing aids have been fitted. Patient satisfaction has soared, and the management of NHS audiology departments has changed dramatically increasing efficiency. Over 130 of England’s 160 Trusts, have had their audiology departments transformed through this initiative. Already 195,000 people have been fitted with digital hearing aids and the work continues. By 2005 all NHS audiology clinics in England will be modernised.

Notes for editors:
·For further information contact: Clarinda Cuppage, RNID Head of Media on 07773 282862, or email:
·The Charity Awards is the voluntary sector’s most important awards scheme celebrating the pioneering work and achievements of all UK charities. The awards, which are given in 10 categories including Arts, Culture and Heritage, International Aid and Development and Education and Training, see the some of the UK’s largest national and internationally recognised charities competing with small regional charities and projects.
·The Overall Best Charity Award was presented by Jane Asher. John Bardon, who plays Jim Branning in EastEnders, presented the award for the Health and Research category.
·Similar audiology modernisation programmes have been completed throughout Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland last year the Scottish Executive committed £17 million of central funds over 4 years to support modernisation of hearing aid services in Scotland by 2007.
·RNID is the largest charity representing the 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. As a membership charity, we aim to achieve a radically better quality of life for deaf and hard of hearing people. We do this in the following ways:
·Campaigning and lobbying to change laws and government policies.
·Challenging negative perceptions around deafness and hearing loss.
·Providing information and raising awareness of deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus.
·Training courses and consultancy on deafness and disability.
·Communication services including sign language interpreters.
·Training of interpreters, lipspeakers and speech-to-text operators.
·Seeking lasting change in education for deaf children and young people.
·Employment programmes to help deaf people into work.
·Care services for deaf and hard of hearing people with additional needs.
·Typetalk, the national telephone relay service for deaf and hard of hearing people.
·Equipment and products for deaf and hard of hearing people.
·Social, medical and technical research.
·For more information about RNID, visit: or contact RNID's Information Line on 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email: