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Deaf people still struggle to access healthcare services

Monday 26th March 2018
Two-thirds of deaf individuals have been left confused about their health following a GP appointment due to communication issues. Image: Jean-philippe WALLET via iStock
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Deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the UK are still struggling to access NHS healthcare services because their additional needs are not always taken into account by providers.

New research from Action on Hearing Loss reveals that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of deaf individuals are often left confused after attending GP appointments because health advice has not been communicated to them in a way they are able to understand.

Meanwhile, over one-third of those questioned said they had experienced difficulties in making a same-day appointment with their GP. Increasingly, these consultations are offered over the phone, which 19 per cent of respondents said was where the issues had occurred.

With these findings in mind, it is clear that the health service has more to do to make healthcare fully accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, despite the introduction of the Accessible Information Standard back in August 2016.

This standard states that NHS care providers are legally required to meet the communication needs of all individuals with disabilities.

Roger Wicks, director of policy and campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said these recent findings were "not acceptable".

"The Accessible Information Standard has represented a huge step forward and has put the communication needs of people with invisible conditions like deafness and hearing loss on the agenda, but it's clear more needs to be done to ensure that there is no postcode lottery in terms of accessibility," he added.

Mr Wicks called on NHS England to work with GP surgeries, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Care Quality Commission to work towards ensuring people of all hearing abilities are able to access the healthcare they need, so their health does not suffer unnecessarily.

Audiologists could potentially play a key role in this, working with GPs and others across the health service to ensure hard-of-hearing individuals are able to access the healthcare services that they require.

Written by James Puckle

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