The NHS has started to ration hearing aids for the deaf – with thousands of people being offered only one device when experts say they need two.

Specialists recommend that patients who are losing their hearing in both ears should be offered two aids, but some NHS authorities have started to offer just one to such people, in a cost-cutting exercise that saves a modest £90 per person.

The charity Action on Hearing Loss, formerly the RNID, has found four hospital trusts in England and two health boards in Wales now initially offer one aid.