Ear wax (cerumen) is a common and significant health problem which can especially impact people with pre-existing hearing loss as it compounds their loss further. It can also cause a number of other issues including discomfort, earache and tinnitus.
Whilst some GPs currently provide ear wax care, many patients are referred to hospital services. Often this is not the right route for them and can lead to longer waiting times.
Each health board will take local action to ensure everyone in Wales has access to ear wax management services in a primary care setting. Provision is free and will be more accessible, therefore reducing the need for people to resort to private providers.
Studies have found 3% of the population present with ear wax problems each year – equating to approximately 96,000 patient appointments in primary care across Wales each year.
Although a small number of these patients will require more complex care, the majority could either self-manage or have their ear wax managed in primary and community care settings.
Guidance has also been developed to ensure consistent advice and treatment across Wales.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Unresolved and troublesome ear wax is a problem for many people however it is also a relatively easy health condition to address.
“We set up a group to examine how we could ensure all citizens across Wales can access the most appropriate treatment and support for ear wax problems. Thanks to the group’s work, we’re now able to offer a clear, consistent approach for primary and community services to better support patients.”
Karen Robson, Interim Director at Action on Hearing Loss, said:
“We welcome the news that ear wax care and management is to be streamlined in Wales. Our service users tell us that they want to receive this service locally and a consistent approach across Wales via Primary care would be a significant development, reducing waiting times and improving access for patients.”