Signature yesterday welcomed the Sick Of It report which revealed how the inaccessibility of health services is leading to poor health outcomes in deaf people.
The report, which focused mainly on Deaf BSL users, was launched at a conference which looked at the findings before considering what needs to be done. The main message was that until there is equality of access in the health service, outcomes will be worse for deaf people.
“The report found that deaf people aren’t visiting their GP because no communication support is made available,” said Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature. “That’s a real worry, because it means easily manageable conditions aren’t being picked up early on.
“As well as having a negative impact on the daily lives of deaf people, it’s costing the NHS money that could be invested elsewhere. It’s disappointing as suitable communication support can easily be found via the NRCPD website, where anyone can search by entering a postcode, and there are a number of relay services available that the NHS could use.”
Throughout the day deaf people told their stories of poor care and the impact it had on their lives. They ranged from a case of undiagnosed high blood pressure to someone who almost bled to death as the result of a lifelong condition that had never been picked up.
“Every one of these situations could easily have been avoided if health practitioners had stopped to think about life from a deaf person’s point of view”, said Dan Sumners, Senior Policy Adviser for Signature.
“Not only is there a clear need for more deaf awareness, but delegates and speakers offered many accounts of the difference even the simplest of training has made. We will therefore be using the findings of this report to encourage more NHS organisations to take up courses offered by our Get Deaf Aware campaign.”
The result of five years work by SignHealth, the report is the largest and most extensive study of the health of deaf people conducted anywhere in the world.