Signature welcomes London Assembly call for better data about the number of deaf people

Signature has welcomed the London Assembly report on access to health services for deaf people.

Produced by the Health Committee, the report notes the disappointing progress five years since the Equality Act came into force in 2010.

In particular, the report highlights the need for better data about the number of deaf people. Without it, ‘health commissioners and providers cannot understand the scale and variety of needs among London’s deaf population’. The Committee recommends NHS England takes the lead in collecting it.

Jim Edwards, chief executive of Signature, said: “This report is very welcome, and we are glad we were able to contribute to its findings.

“Whilst specific to London, its recommendations are relevant to the delivery of health services across the UK. There is a national need for better data on the number of deaf people, the nature of their deafness or hearing loss, and the scale of need.

“Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country need to work together in local and regional groups to commission the communication support services they need to make sure deaf people have access. Until then, standards will vary and provision will be patchy.

“The imminent introduction of the NHS England Accessible Information Standard will help to address the standard of sign language interpreting provided by health and social care organisations. Central to that is the requirement for communication and language professionals to be registered with NRCPD where possible.

“But, as the report acknowledges, we also need to make sure there are enough professionals to meet growing demand. That’s why we’re working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to review the market in communication support.

“We therefore look forward to also working with NHS England and the London Assembly to make sure these aspirations for equal access become a reality.”

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