Working with people who are Deaf, we found that the NHS 111 number uses a Textphone service, when what people say they want is a more flexible and accessible normal mobile phone texting facility. We first heard about this in June 2013, and we spoke to Hester Rowell, at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS)again in October. The issue is that the original NHS 111 contracts were commissioned with a Textphone requirement. We understand that operational changes cost money, but that Hester promised that she would speak to her operations team again. She did that and this is what they said

“The 111 service is a national service and therefore requires the same provision nationally. As the deaf community is relatively small any changes would need to be done at 1 or perhaps 2 national sites. Michela expressed that YAS would possibly be interested in this but funding will be required as it is not in the current contract.

As part of my objectives and the YAS equality objectives I am further exploring what steps need to be taken to move this forward.  I will produce a draft action plan by early November to reflect this.  These timescales will give the YAS deaf professionals group an opportunity to be involved (next meeting 16 October).  I particularly think this involvement important as one of the reasons for the initial issue seemed to be a lack of community engagement.  A member of the YAS deaf professionals group has also conducted some research about communications in the deaf community which we will review as part of the overall process.”

Is this something that you have experience of? Get in touch with Rory Deighton if you have any comments about this.