The department provides hearing, tinnitus and balance assessment and rehabilitation services for patients of all ages, including those with additional needs.
Quality and innovation are at the core of what we do. We are involved in a number of clinical research projects, and provide teaching and training at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Several of our staff are examiners for national Audiology programmes.
If you are concerned about your hearing and feel that you would benefit from having your hearing tested, there a number of ways you can be referred to the Audiology department at STSFT. If you are over the age of 50 and live in the Sunderland and South Tyneside area, you can self-refer by filing out this form.
Please note, that if you are prone to any other ear-related issues, such as a build-up of wax, ear infections, ear pain, vertigo/dizziness, troublesome tinnitus (noises in your ears), or if you feel one ear hears better than the other, please ask your GP to refer you to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department in the first instance.
If you are already an existing patient within our Audiology department, please contact us on 0191 569 9001 for further advice.
We will ask you questions about your hearing and how this impacts your daily life. We will then ask you more general questions about your medical history and examine your ears. Pure tone audiometry is the most common form of hearing assessment. You will wear a pair of headphones or earphones, and will be asked to press a button in response to sounds you hear. This will help us to determine the quietest sounds you can detect across a range of different pitches.
We also see many adults with additional needs (such as a learning disability or dementia), who may find pressing a button challenging. We can adapt our hearing assessment in a number of ways, and usually find we are able to complete a hearing test by making reasonable adjustments.
This depends on your hearing test result. After the assessment, we will discuss this with you. If we identify a hearing loss, we will offer you hearing aid(s).
We offer various types of hearing aid based on the level and type of hearing loss you have. All of the devices we provide are sophisticated digital devices with many advanced features, such as wireless connectivity to smart devices. In most cases, we fit behind-the-ear (BTE) instruments, using slim tubes or custom made earmoulds.
We also issue bone conduction hearing devices, where clinically appropriate. These can be fitted using surgical or non-surgical methods. Your Audiologist will discuss options that are most suited to you.
For those with severe-profound hearing loss, we offer an initial assessment for cochlear implant suitability and make referrals to the North East Regional Cochlear Implant Programme (based at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough).
Please note that if your NHS hearing aid was issued by another provider (including high street providers), you will need to contact them for replacement batteries and hearing aid repairs.
Unfortunately, you are unlikely to be eligible for referral to South Tyneside & Sunderland Audiology department if you have received your hearing aid from another hospital or NHS provider within the last 3 years.
All babies are offered a hearing check as a newborn. If there are clear responses and no risk factors for hearing loss, no further assessments are arranged and you can monitor your baby using the hearing and speech checklists in your red book at home (p36).
If the hearing screeners were unable to record a clear response from one or both ears, or if there are particular risk factors for hearing loss (such as meningitis or CMV), a more detailed hearing assessment will be arranged in Audiology. Most babies at this appointment will not have a permanent hearing loss, as this is very rare (1-2 babies in every 1,000).
If a baby is found to have a permanent hearing loss we may offer hearing aids to help them access the sounds they need for speech and language development. This depends on hearing levels for different pitches of sound, and whether the hearing loss is in one or both ears. The Audiologist will spend time discussing these options and answering any questions you may have. You do not necessarily need to decide on any form of management at the time, and may choose to spend time thinking about your child’s options, or discussing these with loved ones.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s hearing, please ask your GP or Health Visitor to refer you to our Audiology service or to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department if there are associated medical issues (such as repeated ear infections).
We will initially ask you some questions about your child’s responses to sound, relevant medical history and development.
We will use the most appropriate hearing test for your child depending on their age and development.
Children aged 6 months and younger
We will assess your child’s ears and hearing objectively by either:
Children aged 7 months and older
We will assess the quietest sounds your child will respond to.
This will be either:
If these tests are not suitable for your child we can consider objective tests, where they do not need to actively respond.
Tympanometry may be used at any age to assess the middle ear. This is quick and does not cause discomfort. Middle ear fluid is a common finding in children. Sometimes it is referred to as "Glue Ear". Glue Ear can result in temporary hearing difficulties that may vary from day to day.
For babies 6 months and younger who will be assessed while settled or asleep, it is best to prepare them for a nap or at least a rest. Bring anything that helps settle them with you, such as a comforter, milk etc.
Children aged 7 months and over are likely to be tested by responding to sound, so it is best if they are not overly tired or hungry.
We offer a range of hearing aids depending on the age of your child and the type and level of their hearing loss. Our range includes hearing aids worn behind the ear with a soft custom earpiece (earmoulds), and for older children we can offer a more discreet slim tube. We also have bone conduction hearing aids. We offer hearing aids in a range of colours with customisable earpieces.
We may initially re-test hearing to ensure that we have an up-to-date picture of hearing levels. We will then programme hearing aid(s) on the computer using a prescription, based on the hearing test results. We may check this prescription using a test box. We will check that the hearing aid is comfortable for your child to wear, and then switch the device(s) on. We may check how well your child can hear sounds or words when wearing the hearing aid(s).
If your child is attending for a hearing aid appointment and is under 3 you can fill out the LittlEars questionnaire by clicking here, which will provide us with more information about your child’s hearing ability. Alternatively you can request a written copy of this questionnaire by contacting Audiology (contact details can be found at the bottom of this page under the ‘Contact Details’ tab).
Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there are no external sources of sound. It affects approximately 10% of adults and is often perceived as whistling, buzzing, ringing, or humming. Many people experience more than one type of sound.
Further information about tinnitus and its causes and treatment can be found on the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/tinnitus/), or the British Tinnitus Association website (www.tinnitus.org.uk).
If you are concerned about your tinnitus please see your GP who can refer you to the Ear Nose and Throat department to arrange a hearing test and any other investigations that might be necessary. If your tinnitus is impacting your quality of life, the ENT department will refer you to Audiology for a further assessment and to see what can be done to help.
Tinnitus assessment appointments are offered both face-to-face at Sunderland Royal Hospital or Palmer Community Hospital in Jarrow, or ‘remotely’ via a videocall or telephone consultation. You can choose which type of appointment you would prefer. You will speak to an Audiologist who has specialist experience of assessing and helping those whose tinnitus is impacting on their quality of life.
Before the appointment we will ask you to fill out three short questionnaires to assess the effect that the tinnitus is having on your life:
These questionnaires also help us to focus our tinnitus support options on the areas of your life where the tinnitus is having the greatest impact. If you have been asked to complete these questionnaires prior to your tinnitus assessment appointment, please click here to complete these online if you have not already done so. Alternatively, you can request a written copy of these questionnaires by contacting Audiology (contact details can be found at the bottom of this page under the ‘Contact Details’ tab).
During the appointment we will ask a relevant medical history, which will include questions about your tinnitus, hearing, general health, and your lifestyle. This is to understand whether there are factors that might be contributing to your tinnitus.
Once the assessment is complete we can then discuss available options to help manage your tinnitus and improve your quality of life. We will agree an individual management plan for this and make arrangements to review your progress if necessary.
Increased sound sensitivity is a perception that everyday sounds are experienced as intrusively loud, uncomfortable, or painful. Sometimes the sounds may also cause strong emotional or physical responses in the body.
If you are concerned about your sensitivity to sound, please see your GP who can refer you to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department, to arrange a hearing test and any other investigations that might be necessary. If your sound sensitivity is impacting your quality of life, the ENT department will refer you to Audiology for a further assessment and to see what can be done to help.
Sound sensitivity assessment appointments are offered both face-to-face at Sunderland Royal Hospital, or ‘remotely’ via a videocall or telephone consultation. You can choose which type of appointment you would prefer. You will speak to an Audiologist who has specialist experience of assessing and helping those whose sensitivity to sound is impacting on their quality of life.
We will ask a relevant medical history, which will include questions about your sound sensitivity experiences, hearing, general health, and your lifestyle. This is to understand whether there are factors that might be contributing to your sound sensitivity.
Before the appointment we will ask you to fill out three short questionnaires to assess the effect that the sound sensitivity is having on your life:
These questionnaires also help us to focus our support options on the areas of your life where the sound sensitivity is having the greatest impact. If you have been asked to complete these questionnaires prior to your assessment appointment, please click here to complete these online if you have not already done so. Alternatively, you can request a written copy of these questionnaires by contacting Audiology (contact details can be found at the bottom of this page under the ‘Contact Details’ tab).
Once the assessment is complete we can then discuss available options to help manage your sound sensitivity and improve your quality of life. There are different types of sound sensitivity, and the most helpful treatment options depend on your exact symptoms. We will agree an individual management plan for this and make arrangements to review your progress if necessary.
Symptoms of imbalance and dizziness are very common, and can be caused by a range of different medical conditions. One of the most common causes is a problem with the inner ear (the vestibular organ).
If you are experiencing dizziness or balance problems, please speak to your GP, who may refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. Based on your symptoms and medical history, you may then be offered a balance assessment appointment to investigate whether your symptoms are related to your inner ear.
Dizziness is a general term, used to describe a range of symptoms, and doesn’t feel the same to everyone. It would be helpful if you could start to think about your symptoms before your appointment. The first part of the session will usually be spent asking you in-depth questions about how the dizziness started, what it felt like, if it has changed, and whether you have any other symptoms or medical conditions.
Testing will mainly look at the balance organs in the inner ear. Your symptoms and medical history will be used to decide which tests are most appropriate for you. These will be performed by an Audiologist with specialist training in balance assessment.
Wherever possible we will discuss the results and provide you with a diagnosis on the day of your appointment. However, in some cases we may need to review and discuss results with other professionals, who can assess other possible contributing factors. Our wider balance team includes Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, Neurologists, Cardiologists, Physiotherapists and Pharmacists, who may also contribute to your diagnosis and treatment plan.
Depending on the results of your assessment, we may talk to you about ways you can improve your balance, and discuss vestibular (balance) rehabilitation.
Vestibular rehabilitation involves completing exercises, designed to speed recovery following a disruption to the balance system and improve your symptoms. This can be provided either face-to-face at Sunderland Royal Hospital, or ‘remotely’ via a videocall or telephone consultation. You can choose which type of appointment you would prefer.
Before your vestibular rehabilitation appointment you will be asked to fill-in two short questionnaires to assess the impact your symptoms are having on your life, monitor progress, and establish whether there are any other contributing factors:
If you have been asked to complete these questionnaires prior to your assessment appointment, and have not already done so, please click here to complete them online. Alternatively, you can request a written copy of these questionnaires by contacting Audiology (contact details can be found at the bottom of this page under the ‘Contact Details’ tab).
If you have already been referred to the Audiology department, and have been asked to fill in one of the forms below, please click on the corresponding link.
Please only fill out one of the form(s) below if you have been specifically instructed to do so by your Audiologist.
Alternatively you can request a written copy of these questionnaires by contacting Audiology (contact details can be found at the bottom of this page under the ‘Contact Details’ tab).
Tinnitus Assessment: Tinnitus functional index, H.A.D.S questionnaire, Insomnia Severity Index. Click here to complete these questionnaires in preparation for your upcoming appointment.
Balance Rehabilitation: Vestibular Rehabilitation Benefit Questionnaire, H.A.D.S questionnaire. Click here to complete these questionnaires in preparation for your upcoming appointment.
Paediatric (children): LittlEars (for hearing aid appointments and/or if your child is under 3 years of age). Click here to complete this questionnaire in preparation for your upcoming appointment.
If you require any further information, please feel free to contact us directly.
Telephone Number: 0191 569 9001
Sunderland Royal Hospital main enquiry line (switchboard) is 0191 565 6256
Audiology appointments take place at a number of sites across the region. Please read your appointment letter carefully so you know where your appointment will take place.
The address for the main Audiology department, based at Sunderland Royal Hospital is:
Outpatients Department (Chester Wing)
Sunderland Royal Hospital
Access to the department is via Entrance 5 (outpatients), located off Chester Road. You must check in at the Audiology reception desk upon arrival. This is located to your left as you initially enter the building.
Please note that you will be unable to check in using the electronic self-check-in terminals.
For further information about Sunderland Royal Hospital Audiology department please click here.
Audiology outreach clinics:
If you have an appointment at one of our alternative clinic bases, please click the corresponding link below to access more information regarding location and appointments:
Alternatively, some of our appointments are offered remotely by telephone or video call.
All of our information leaflets and appointment letters can be made available in a range of alternative formats or languages upon request. If you require an interpreter please contact the department.
Our clinical team is made up of Clinical Scientists, Audiologists, Associate Audiology Practitioners, Audiology Assistants and Newborn Hearing Screeners.
The service is supported by an administration team, who are happy to answer or re-direct your queries and feedback, as appropriate.
Named clinical leads for each Audiology service area can be found below:
Audiology Manager - Brian Pinkney
Clinical Lead for Non-Routine Adult Services - Lynzee McShea
Clinical Lead for Children’s Audiology (age 0-4) - Stella Devlin
Clinical Lead for Balance Services - Kimberley Novis
Clinical Lead for Tinnitus Services - Simon Howe
Newborn Hearing Local Manager - Stella Devlin
We are constantly striving to improve our services. If you would like to assist in developing and reviewing our patient information materials, please contact us using the details provided above (under the ‘Contact Us’ tab).
Having a Hearing Test
Specialised Assessment & Rehabilitation
Adult Hearing Aid Assessment
Adult Hearing Aid Fitting
Adult Hearing Aid Review / Reassessment
Assistive Listening Devices
Earmould Fitting Information
Looking After Your Earmould
Ear Wax Removal – Aftercare Information
Hearing Support Services (Adult)
Newborn Follow-Up Hearing Assessment
Paediatric Hearing Assessment
Child-Adult Transition Hearing Aid Services
Children’s Hearing Aid Assessment / Review
Hearing Support Services (Paediatric)
Information About Your Tinnitus
Adult Tinnitus Assessment
Combination Hearing Devices for Tinnitus
Tinnitus & Children
Balance & Dizziness Assessment
BPPV Diagnosis & Treatment
Exercises for BPPV
Managing Your Symptoms & Remaining Active