One consequence of the recent resurgence in clinical and research interest in tinnitus is that information and resources are developing thick and fast. At least ten research papers concerning tinnitus are being published each week, and new technologies and potential treatments are becoming available all the time. How can a tinnitus clinician keep abreast of all this, and ensure that they are offering the best available treatments, therapies and information?

East of England Tinnitus Network

The NHS based tinnitus clinicians in East of England have initiated a creative and innovative solution to these strategies. A ‘Tinnitus Network’ has been formed, meeting twice a year, with the aims of:

  • sharing best practice
  • critically reflecting upon new research evidence
  • critically evaluating new technologies and treatments
  • encouraging peer support
  • providing mentoring
  • updating skills and sharing clinical experience

The network has met twice, co-ordinated by Claire Gatenby (Norfolk and Norwich NHS Hospitals Trust) and initiated by David Baguley (Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust). It has been supported from an Otological perspective by Mr Don McFerran, Consultant Otologist, (Colchester University NHS Hospitals Trust) and David Stockdale (BTA) attended the first meeting. Themes raised so far include case studies, outcome measures (questionnaires), research updates, how best to set up and sustain a tinnitus support group (leading to the formation of two new groups), and plans for future meetings include journal clubs, technology and treatment updates, in context of open and deep discussion.

Opportunities have been taken for online discussion and sharing both of knowledge and of resources. Rapid dissemination of new information has been a feature, allowing colleagues away from academic centres to access as it happens developments.

All who work in the NHS are pressed for time, and support for travel is not always easy to come by, but this Tinnitus Network is shaping up to be a time and cost effective framework for sharing best practices, and supporting geographically dispersed clinicians.

Key elements of a tinnitus network group

  • a named and diligent co-ordinator
  • sign up by Heads of Service
  • central location with good transport links
  • non-hierarchical and open atmosphere
  • topical and interesting agenda items
  • good external speakers
  • links with British Tinnitus Association