As the trade association representing hearing instrument manufacturers in the UK and Ireland, we are committed to regular monitoring of the UK and Irish market, to identify potential trends and track the progress of the different supply routes and technologies.

The results in Quarter 1 of 2017 (Jan-Mar) already show some interesting developments. NHS growth is particularly strong, up 10.7% compared to Q1 2016 (the full 2016 results and analysis can be viewed here). NHS volumes can fluctuate so it is premature to draw any concrete conclusions, and yet if this growth continues it is above and beyond the BIHIMA projections which take account of the ageing population in the UK. Such growth in the NHS market could be an early sign that the awareness campaigns organised by our industry in recent years are proving successful – and that more people are presenting themselves with hearing loss and are being fitted with hearing instruments.

It is noteworthy, however, that the growth in the private market slowed to 2% over the same period. This brings the total number of units sold in Q1 of 2017 to 452,196, up 9.1% from Q1 of 2016.

In terms of technological trends, in the private market the trend of increased uptake of receiver in the ear and receiver in the canal (RITE/RIC) technology continues, up from 61% of the total units sold in Q1 2016, to 67% of units sold in Q1 2017, with a corresponding decrease in custom hearing aids. We expect the dominance of RITE/RIC technology to continue throughout 2017.

Read the full Q1 Market Statistics report here.