The NHS is changing. We were concerned that the pace of change in the new NHS may have left people who are deaf or hard of hearing behind.
During the summer of 2013 Healthwatch Kirklees picked up a number of concerns from people who are Deaf or hard of hearing in Kirklees that they are having mixed experiences when they access NHS health services. A lot of the time this was reported as being around the lack of BSL interpreters at GP or inconsistencies when people are at the hospital or other NHS appointments. People said there needed to be more awareness raising and understanding from health professionals about the needs of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
When it comes to using health services, it is important that people with hearing loss have the same opportunities of access as hearing people. This wouldn’t just be a nice thing to happen. Since 2010 it’s a legal requirement for organisations delivering NHS services to make reasonable adjustments to make their services accessible for people who have a disability. And it says they should think ahead and promote how they will make their services accessible – rather than just respond to complaints.
Healthwatch Kirklees wanted to have a better understanding the experience (including barriers) of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing when accessing NHS health services in Kirklees. This was to influence local decision makers to challenge discrimination, change attitudes and break down barriers faced by those individuals when using NHS services.
Healthwatch Kirklees considers the following recommendations will help organisations delivering NHS services to make reasonable adjustments to make their services accessible for people who have a hearing impairment / disability and so comply with the Equality Act 2010. They will help providers anticipate people’s communications needs and make their services accessible – rather than respond to potential complaints.
You can read our report below, in full or summary version.
To find out more about our initial piece of work and the way we involved people who are deaf and hard of hearing, please watch this clip: