The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

New Hearing and Balance Service at Seacroft Hospital opened

19 May 2021

The old Hearing and Balance Centre has moved from its former home on the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) site to a new unit in Seacroft Hospital and has become known as the Hearing and Balance Service.

 The move has come about because work continues apace on the construction of two new state-of-the art hospitals on the LGI site due to be completed in 2025.

 The Hearing and Balance Service offers hearing assessments and high-quality hearing aids to children and adults in the Leeds area.

 On hand to cut the ribbon at the official opening of the new £2.1m unit was Julian Hartley, the Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Two of the service’s patients were invited as special guests to the ceremony, 83-year-old Eric Songhurst, who had been under the care of the Service for 16 years, and three-year-old Poppy Whitaker along with her mum and dad, Katie and Matt.     

Poppy has been under the care of the Hearing and Balance Service after her mum, Katie, noticed her daughter had problems with her hearing after being screened as a baby.

Tests showed she had moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears and not long after that she came under the care of the Hearing and Balance Service in Leeds.  Poppy nure and mum YEP credit

(Photo: Gary Longbottom/Yorkshire Evening Post)

Poppy was diagnosed with both Mondini Dysplasia and Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome, and she had her first cochlear hearing aids fitted at just eight weeks and has been wearing them ever since.

“Just recently she’s had some radio receivers fitted to her hearing aids,” said mum Katie. “These allow us to speak directly to her in a noisy environment, even at a distance, using a special lanyard we wear around our necks.

“The staff at Leeds Hearing and Balance Service are just fantastic. We wanted to learn British Sign Language, which is important to us as a family, and they put us in contact with a deaf mentor. It’s important as we want Poppy to be part of deaf culture.”

Retired teacher Eric Songhurst has had hearing problems since he was a child.  “My ears have never been good, and I can remember when I was seven or eight walking home from the school hearing clinic in agony, with my hands over my ears,” said Eric.

About 16 years ago he really started to struggle, finding he couldn’t follow programmes on the television.  “I got to the stage where I was avoiding certain work and social situations because I really struggled to follow conversations and discussions,” he added.

H7 Racheal Berry Eric Songhurst

Eric Songhurst with Rachel Berry, Senior Specialist Healthcare Scientist in Audiology 

He saw an audiologist at the Leeds Hearing and Balance Service and then a consultant who told him he would be an ideal candidate for a bone-anchored hearing aid.  “After it was fitted, I was walking away from the hospital and I was thinking “Oh I can hear that, I can hear that, and I can hear that as well,” he said.

“Having the hearing aid fitted made me realise just how much of my hearing I had lost, and the first-class treatment and care I’ve received from the Leeds Hearing and Balance Service made a vast difference to life as it was.”

Julian Hartley, the Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust performed the official opening and said the Trust had examined a number of sites for the new Hearing and Balance Service before deciding on Seacroft Hospital.

“Following an engagement exercise with patients, and acting on clinical advice, we decided the Seacroft site offered the space needed for the services’ specialist audiology testing equipment,” he said.  “It also offers on-site parking and access by bus and road, which had been flagged up as a concern for patients during the engagement process.”

H1 Julian Hartley COPY

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is investing around £2.1m in the new unit at Seacroft Hospital, and the new unit offers modern clinic areas with new audiology testing booths and provision for paediatric cases as well as adults.

“I’m very proud of everyone in the Hearing and Balance Service, and not just because of the seamless transition to their new home, but for all the great work they do, day in and out, for the people of Leeds,” said Mr Hartley. 

While some of the services provided by the Hearing and Balance Service have moved to Seacroft, some services will remain where they are until the new hospitals are completed, including:

  • Balance testing which will stay on the LGI site, moving into the ENT outpatients’ department in the Brotherton Wing.
  • Audiology Services at Wharfedale Hospital remain unchanged.
  • Repairs clinics for batteries, tubing and everyday problems with hearing aids will continue to be run in multiple sites across the city, and access to these services remains unchanged.