Hearing aids provided by the NHS should not be restricted based on "hearing thresholds", health officials have said.
New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) states that patients should be offered hearing aids at the "the first opportunity if an individual is likely to benefit".
Charity Action on Hearing Loss welcomed the move after it has campaigned against local health policies limiting the provision of aids to people with mild or moderate hearing loss.
Paul Breckell, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, said: "We campaigned for the existence of a Nice guideline on hearing loss and the recent publication is hugely welcome, as is their clear acknowledgement that treatment must be based on need and not on arbitrary and often misleading 'hearing thresholds'.
"Nice has stated in the strongest possible terms that hearing aids - the only available treatment for the majority of those living with hearing loss - should be provided to all who need them and that restricting provision raises serious questions of inequality of access.
"This is a huge vindication of the campaigning we have done on this issue."
The final guidance on the assessment and management of hearing loss in adults also calls for people not to use cotton buds to clean their ears as this risks damaging the ear canal and ear drum.
It also states that GP surgeries or community clinics should offer to remove earwax if a build-up is contributing to someone's hearing loss.
Patients no longer need to be referred to a specialist for the same procedure.
Nice said hearing loss affects around nine million people across England.
And as the population ages, the number is expected to rise to 13 million by 2035.
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