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RNID Campaign on Wax Removal

05 March 2024

For many years, people could go to their GP surgery for ear wax removal – but increasingly, GP practices are no longer offering this service. Now, people must either seek private ear wax removal, costing up to £100, or attempt to manage their ear wax themselves. If done incorrectly, this can lead to infection, permanent hearing loss, ear canal or ear drum damage. 

This contradicts clear guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the body that recommends which services should be available on the NHS. NICE guidelines state that GP surgeries or community clinics should offer to remove earwax, if build-up is contributing to someone’s hearing loss or causing other symptoms.

To get a picture of where NHS wax removal is available in England, RNID submitted Freedom of Information requests to all integrated care boards (ICBs), the commissioners of most NHS services, in England. 40 out of 42 provided useful responses. 

They found that; 

-Less than half of ICBs are commissioning wax removal services in line with NICE guidelines,

-Most ICBs commission some services but people can only access them if they live in certain parts of the ICB area. In some areas, people had to meet specific restrictive criteria, such as limiting access to the service to those 55 and over,

-At least seven ICBs commission no wax removal services at all.

For more information on the campaign go to RNID

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