Tinnitus happens when a person hears a sound without an external source. This condition torments people and compromises their quality of life.
The pandemic made the case worse for these patients as it prevents their much-needed care from GPs and specialists from coming. For this reason, the BTA or British Tinnitus Association’s battle cry is for psychologists and other secondary care professionals to step in and address the mental health challenges brought by this condition.
This condition has been linked to depression and anxiety. Data show that GPs had to refer tinnitus patients to tinnitus and ENT specialists because they can reduce the patients’ stress by 1.7%. But due to the pandemic and the social restrictions it caused, 1 in 3 GPs have had rejected referrals to specialists.
When guidelines were put in place last March 2020, the quality of GP appointments has improved but not for long. Just recently, the data show that less than 50% of GPs follow the set guidelines, reducing their engagement with tinnitus patients.
BTA’s Chief Executive says the social restrictions have made symptoms worse for tinnitus patients. This means we need to rely on and invest in secondary care professionals, like psychologists, and improve the GP community to provide help so we can meet the needs of these patients.