The UK’s largest hearing loss charity Action on Hearing Loss is urging the 9 million people in England who are deaf or have hearing loss to tell their GP what support they need to help them communicate.
The call to the public comes as the charity launches its new campaign, ‘On the Record’, just under three weeks before the NHS England’s mandatory Accessible Information Standard comes into full force.
The charity’s Access All Areas research found that most people with hearing loss surveyed were forced to struggle with the phone or go in person to book appointments for lack of other options such as online booking. One in seven had missed an appointment because they hadn’t heard their name called out in the waiting room. Furthermore, more than a quarter had said they didn’t understand their diagnosis after seeing their GP, and two thirds of those needing a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter didn't get one.
NHS England estimates that missed appointments for people with all levels of hearing loss costs the NHS at least £14 million every year.
Dr Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said:
This is a huge step forward for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. From simply booking appointments to fully understanding what has been said in the consulting room, many have struggled to enjoy full, equal access to healthcare.
This Standard now means that the 9million people in England who are deaf or have hearing loss must be provided with the support they need to communicate when they visit the GP or other NHS services. We urge anyone who hasn’t had their needs recorded to use one of our free resources to contact their GP and make their needs known.
The Standard, which becomes a legal requirement in England by 31st Jul 2016, establishes a clear administrative process for providers of NHS care or publicly funded adult social care to follow to make sure people with disabilities and sensory loss can contact services when they need to, communicate well during appointments and understand information they are given.
The charity has created a template letter for patients to send to their GP practice manager or a card for patients to give to the receptionist the next time they’re at the surgery. Patients can use one of these two resources to explain what support they need.