Access to health services for d/Deaf people

Date published: 
09 June 2015

Deaf people’s health is poorer than the general population and they are more at risk of preventable ill-health. 

The London Assembly Health Committee report ‘Access to health services for deaf people’[1] is calling for urgent action to eliminate the disadvantages deaf people still face when accessing the health service.

During the investigation, Andrew Boff AM, the report’s rapporteur, met with a number of stakeholders, including the British Deaf Association, Action on Hearing Loss, Signature and SignHealth and visited the London Borough of Islington’s Sign Language Interpreting Service and Royal Free London NHS Trust. Written evidence was also submitted and a seminar event was held in City Hall to gather views from health service providers and users.

[1] The term ‘deaf people’ is used to refer to the deaf population as a whole, including those with mild, through to severe hearing loss and profoundly deaf individuals (those who would describe themselves as culturally Deaf and whose first language is British Sign Language).

Recommendations

Urgently needed data on hearing disability should be routinely collected and compiled by NHS England London. Estimates for London’s deaf population range as widely as 25,000 to one million and a lack of data makes it difficult for health services to plan and provide services that meet the needs of deaf patients.

Local Clinical Commissioning Groups should jointly commission support services for deaf people to improve the standard and level of these services. They could save money together and create a more competitive market.

London GPs and NHS Trusts should review the accessibility of their complaints processes for deaf patients. Direct links, including an ‘easy read’ format, should be clearly visible on websites in order to make it easier. 

A universal standard for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting should be provided in GP surgeries and hospitals.

Executive summary in British Sign Language

The report is available to download below.

Executive summary of report

Report feedback

Paul Redfern, Business Development Manager, British Deaf Association

"The report is very powerful. The British Deaf Association recognises and really welcomes this report, we do see this as a large step forward from what we have had before.  Without the report we don't have a voice, and without us having a voice, services can't change to adapt to our needs. So far, we have been invisble and this is the start of us now becoming visible."

Dr Roger Wicks, Director of Policy & Campaigns, Action on Hearing Loss

"It's an exceptional piece of work in many ways and I think it helps us to take an important step forward. I think what the report does is put this issue on the public agenda, particularly in London, but beyond London. This mustn't be a report that we talk about today and then forget."