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NHS Kernow’s website closed on 30 June 2022. Visit the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board website for information about our health and care services.

Ear, nose and throat

Our planned care team plan and buy services for people with ear, nose and throat and hearing problems or associated conditions.


If you are aged 55 and older and having problems with your hearing, your GP can refer you to an audiology provider for an assessment.

These providers are:

  • Alistair Kinsey Ltd (Tavistock)
  • Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
  • The Outside clinics (for people who need an assessment at home)
  • Scrivens Ltd
  • Specsavers
  • University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

If you are aged 54 and under, your GP will be able to refer you to a hospital ear, nose and throat or audiology department.

Aural care

This service is run by specialist nurses. They help the ear, nose and throat consultants treat conditions such as:

  • cholesteatoma
  • discharging ears
  • mastoid cavities
  • otitis externa
  • perforation of ear drums
  • surfers’ ear for treatment of otitis externa
  • wax impaction where the commissioning policy criteria is met

Aural care briefing

We commission Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust to provide this nurse led service. The service sees people needing complex ear wax removal using microsuction. It also supports our ear, nose and throat consultants to see people with active infections and diseases that erodes bone which could progress and cause significant complications. These complications include:

  • dizziness
  • infection in and around the brain
  • permanent irreversible hearing loss if not managed

So that we use this resource, there is an agreement in place that certain criteria (PDF, 1.5 MB) must be met for referrals to be accepted.

Some people only need to attend 1 appointment, but others may need more. A clinical assessment for when a person can be discharged is applied to all patients based on criteria set by the ear, nose and throat department. An average appointment time slot is about 15 minutes per patient, however there are around 2,000 people waiting for a follow-up appointment.

We are currently carrying out a review on whether a commissioned ear wax service should be provided in primary care for people who do not meet the secondary care criteria. The outcome of this review will be published in 2022.

Ear, nose and throat services

Services are delivered by hospital providers. Your GP can refer you for these services and you will be seen by a consultant or a member of their team.

Conditions treated include:

  • fractured noses
  • head and neck cancer
  • neck lumps
  • paediatric sleep apnoea
  • persistent ear pain
  • rhinitis or sinusitis
  • throat problems
  • unilateral tinnitus

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