Equality Act no barrier to better health support for deaf people

The Equality Act does not prevent health workers recording deafness and communication needs in patient notes, the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) has confirmed.

On the contrary, recording such information might be seen to be a reasonable adjustment under the Act. Because of that, the EASS would want to know why if someone refused to do so.

Signature approached the EASS after hearing from delegates at SignHealth’s recent conference to launch its Sick Of It report. Doctors had told them they couldn’t record the information in their notes because of the Act.

“As soon as I heard it, I thought it didn’t sound right,” said Dan Sumners, Senior Policy Adviser. “The important thing now is to get the information to deaf people who are coming up against these barriers. Because what the Sick Of It report shows is that unequal access is leading to poor health in deaf people.”

Signature also contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to ask if the Data Protection Act might stop a doctor recording the information. Whilst the ICO said they would need to know more about a particular case, in principle it is up to a patient what is recorded in their notes.

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