University College London’s Co-Production Collective is pleased to announce a new partnership with NHS England to co-produce improvements to hearing checks for young people

Today is World Hearing Day 2021. This year’s theme is ‘Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate’ brought to you by World Health Organisation (WHO).


Co-Production Collective, based at University College London (UCL), is pleased to announce a new and exciting partnership with NHS England. People with learning disabilities are more likely to experience hearing loss than the general public but are less likely to have their hearing issue diagnosed or managed[i]. This doesn’t have to be the case.


Together, Co-Production Collective and NHS England will be working with young people, their parents and carers, and school staff in residential special schools across England to co-produce innovative new approaches and improved access to hearing checks for children and young people who are autistic, have a learning disability, or both.


This year long collaborative project forms part of the activation of point 2.31 of The NHS Long Term Plan and will be delivered in line with the NHS England Learning Disability and Autism Strategic Plan for this work.


Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal from UCL and Sarah O’Brien who is involved in the co-production of the Collective, and is autistic, share their thoughts:


“Co-Production Collective is excited to work with families, professionals and NHS England on this highly impactful and necessary project. Often autistic people, those with a learning disability, or both, can struggle to receive timely diagnosis and treatment that is accessible to them. Approaches to healthcare delivery are frequently designed by clinical staff with limited input from those who will use services. We are excited to be working on the co-production of hearing checks in residential special schools with children and young people, their families, and education staff who support them, to ensure that audiology services meet their needs. By working together, we can ensure that the hearing checks delivered are accessible for children and young people who have a diagnosis of autism, a learning disability or both.”


Quote from Ruth, NHS England.

“I am so excited to be working on this project. We have a long journey ahead of us but I truly believe that this programme of work will develop our thinking and ways of working. Increasing our knowledge and understanding by breaking down barriers to accessing hearing checks for children.”


World Hearing Day 2021 marks the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing. Key messages from the report emphasise that the number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable. Ultimately, timely action that uses person-centred care is needed to prevent and address hearing loss across the life course. Through the work of this project with NHS England we hope to create a person-centred approach to hearing checks that diagnoses and treats hearing loss earlier in children and young people that are autistic, have a learning disability or both.


Co-Production Collective is a community of patients, carers, researchers, practitioners, students and anyone else who is interested in co-production (in the health context or more generally). For further information about this piece of work please contact Niccola at Co-Production Collective on


If you would like to learn more about World Hearing Day or to find out how to join their social media Hear-a-thon please visit the WHO website for further information.


[1] McShea, L. (2013). Hearing loss in people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 7(12), 601-605.

[i] McShea, L. (2013). Hearing loss in people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 7(12), 601-605.