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UCL Public Engagement Blog



A new partnership for Co-Production Collective

By Niccola, on 3 March 2021

Niccola and co-producer Sarah O’Brien bring you right up to speed on a new partnership for Co-Production Collective with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Today is World Hearing Day 2021. This year’s theme is ‘Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate’ brought to you by World Health Organisation (WHO).

We are really pleased to announce a new and exciting partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement. People with learning disabilities are more likely to experience hearing loss than the general public but are less likely to have their hearing issue diagnosed or managed(1). This doesn’t have to be the case.

A young person screams into an old style microphone

A young person shouts or sings into an old style microphone (Image credit: Jason Rosewell via Unsplash)

Together with NHS England and NHS Improvement, we will be working with young people, their parents and carers, and school staff in residential special schools across England to co-produce innovative new approaches and improved access to hearing checks for children and young people who are autistic, have a learning disability, or both.

This year long collaborative project forms part of the activation of point 2.31 of The NHS Long Term Plan and will be delivered in line with the NHS England and NHS Improvement Learning Disability and Autism Strategic Plan for this work.

We are really excited to be collaborating on this highly impactful and necessary project. Often autistic people, those with a learning disability, or both, can struggle to receive timely diagnosis and treatment that is accessible to them. Approaches to healthcare delivery are frequently designed by clinical staff with limited input from those who will use services. We will be changing this, to co-produce hearing checks in residential special schools with children and young people, their families, and education staff who support them, to ensure that audiology services meet their needs. By working together, we can ensure that the hearing checks delivered are accessible.

Ruth Thomsen from NHS England and NHS Improvement shared her thoughts with us:

“I am so excited to be working on this project. We have a long journey ahead of us but I truly believe that this programme of work will develop our thinking and ways of working. It will increase our knowledge and understanding by breaking down barriers to accessing hearing checks for children.”

World Hearing Day 2021 marks the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing. Key messages from the report emphasise that the number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable. This is something our co-production pilot project Hearing Birdsong also works to tackle. Ultimately, timely action that uses person-centred care is needed to prevent and address hearing loss across the life course. Through the work of this project with NHS England and NHS Improvement we hope to create a person-centred approach to hearing checks that diagnoses and treats hearing loss earlier in children and young people that are autistic, have a learning disability or both.

A spiral of people with the words World Hearing Day 2021

World Hearing Day 2021 is on 3 March, get involved if you would like to and raise awareness (Image credit: www.who.int)

If you would like to learn more about World Hearing Day or to find out how to join their social media Hear-a-thon please visit the WHO website for further information.

For further information about this Co-Production Collective piece of work with NHS England and NHS Improvement please contact Niccola on coproduction@ucl.ac.uk. We are still in the early stages but will keep you updated as to opportunities to get involved. Thanks!


1. McShea, L. (2013). Hearing loss in people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 7(12), 601-605.


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