PATIENTS with hearing problems will benefit from shorter waiting times when a new NHS service is introduced next month.

Increasing demand means many audiology patients currently have to wait several weeks for appointments at Colchester General Hospital.

But a new one-stop service will see people referred instead to clinics at local surgeries.

The NHS Community Audiology Service, for patients aged 50 and over, will launch on June 2 in Tendring.

Patients will be assessed for the degree and nature of hearing loss, and can have free hearing aids fitted there and then if they wish.

Project leader Dr Sonica Goel, of North East Essex CCG, said: “This new service is a significant improvement for audiology patients now and in future.

“It costs the NHS roughly the same as the current service, but will offer faster, more responsive and convenient services for patients."

In Tendring the service will be offered at: GP Care UK - Crusader Surgery, Clacton, CVS Tendring, Clacton, Great Bentley Surgery. Scrivens - Rayner Opticians, Harwich.