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Getting the basics right for people who are Deaf

28/06/2018

Thanks to Sandra, NHS England is improving the way they communicate with people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Picture of sandra

Being admitted to hospital can be a stressful experience for anyone. Now imagine you can’t understand what the doctors are saying about your medicine, care or when you can go home. For Deaf people, this can be a reality if services don’t provide the right support.

Our volunteer, Sandra, has been campaigning for the rights of Deaf people for over 10 years. She heard about a Deaf lady who was admitted to hospital without a BSL interpreter. The hospital staff assumed the patient could lip read, which meant they were misdiagnosed and prescribed the wrong medication.

Working with Healthwatch Northamptonshire and local charity Deafconnect, Sandra found this wasn’t an isolated incident and over 20 people had made similar complaints in the past six months.

Together we raised the issue with the CCG in the first instance. They highlighted the difficulties Deaf people face when a BSL interpreter isn’t provided, which meant booking appointments was harder and appointments could be cancelled, causing delays in treatment and wasting staff time.

Frustrated by a lack of response from the CCG, Sandra escalated her concerns to NHS England, who agreed there were issues with staff awareness of using and booking interpreters.

NHS England has committed to review how Deaf people’s communications needs are recorded by services, as well as providing more training for health professionals.

Local primary care services are also providing online and face to face BSL interpreters to people who are deaf and hard of hearing as a direct result of Sandra’s work.

Thanks to Sandra, Deaf people in Northamptonshire will not only have better support in place, but are also more aware of where to go to make their views heard.

Sandra’s dedication has been celebrated by being short-listed for the Healthwatch England #ItStartWithYou award, which will be announced at the Healthwatch England annual conference in October. The award celebrates the dedication of people using their voice to make a difference to care of others.

Run by the independent health and care champion Healthwatch England, the #ItStartsWithYou campaign returns for a second year. The campaign encourages people to have their say, and highlights the difference that people are already making to health and social care services by sharing their experiences.

In recognition of these dedicated individuals and groups, together with the many thousands more who have contributed over the last year, the #ItStartsWithYou campaign is designed to highlight the difference people can make by sharing their experiences with their local Healthwatch and to encourage more people to have their say on health and care.

Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said:

“However big or small the issue, Healthwatch wants to hear about it from you. If it’s important to one person, it’s very likely that it affects other people, too. 

“By sharing your story you can help doctors, dentists, hospitals and care homes understand what’s working and what could be better, for you and your community.

Its heartening to see a growing culture of people sharing their experiences. It might just feel like your story, but if it matters to you, it matters to us, and it really can make a difference” 

Kate Holt, CEO of Healthwatch Northamptonshire said:

“Sandra is an outstanding champion for issues regarding deaf and hearing impaired people and their right to access health and social care as easily as everyone else. She has made a significant difference locally and we are very proud that she has been nominated for this very well-deserved award”. 


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