It would seem despite 4 equality and disability access laws, the UK NHS and their General Practitioners are still determined to make things as difficult as possible for the deaf or hearing impaired patient. One anomaly we came across was that the NHS in the UK does NOT have to comply automatically with access for all its patients, it is not written in the NHS remit.
The 'free access at point of service..' declaration, does not imply we will all get communication support, but as we read on, some do but the NHS are highly selective and sensitive to vociferous minorities under the human rights act, but only then responding to those who carry a legal threat through. 'Each according to need..' means a 'global' application of support doesn't happen, even if a patient succeeds, it simply means the next patient has to go through it all again for the same access for him, or her.
Telephonic help desks for health support invaluably fail at start of call, there is no access in an emergency situation. Most online access is totally unbalanced, with sign using deaf people's access monopolising online by a ratio of 11 to 1. There doesn't appear to BE an access campaign for non signing people. Some niggles we read are here....
#1 "I've been asked to make suggestions to the practice manager at the surgery. Obviously I will suggest a digital screen but I think the minimum requirement is a loop that is 'always on' which has been suggested. I asked for suggestions and I think it's clear that these two options are best.
Due to the design of the waiting room it's not clear where would be the best position for any screen. This has already been raised by the staff as a reason not to install one. Can anyone confirm for me that most HoH/deaf patients will position themselves where they can see any screen, etc.? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who does this!"
#2 "I park myself facing the counter, after informing them I am deaf so they can indicate to me when my name is called. It doesn't always work if the seating is taken by someone else ! I saw a Channel 5 program on London surgeries and they had a very visual name, and indicating system, I've NOT seen a similar blanket system in my local surgeries at all."
#3 "My GP also did not make his online website accessible either, and still doesn't, as a sop to me for creating mayhem for him, they gave me a direct e-mail to the surgery booking systems which I can use for enquiries but NOT to their primary website and not available to many other hearing loss patients, who I assume still are unaware I have such access. I was informed I was not to 'pass it around' or it would be withdrawn. 90% of GP's offer no realistic access to those with hearing loss.
#4 "As regards to online access they say they haven't the time or wherewithal to monitor it, so use it for stat updates on flu jabs whatever. Even their TV screens showing health films, are not subtitled..."
#5 "The loop systems are the basic excuse for not offering any other access, most are not even switched on.. and many surgeries said HoH don't ask for that..."
#6 "GP's coerce patients to 'bring someone who can hear for you..' or ask you to ''Bring your carer...' If you refuse or cannot, you have to put up with huge delays to see the doc while they seek out what professional support you need to follow. Rather than suffer more with your issue, you feel obligated or pressured to ask a relative to help, it is unfair..".
#7 "This is why you DON'T see demand, you kill it yourself by default. That is then used by the NHS to suggest access is already there and there is no great demand for help being seen."
#8 "I am hard of hearing and need some text assistance, my GP said he wouldn't write things down. He asked if I would use sign relay access, I told him I didn't sign, what use would it be ?"
#9 "I asked my Doctor for speech to text help, and he said there wasn't any provision available, would you like sign language support instead ? It seems outrageous unawareness with the very people who monitor your condition... when your own Doctor cannot understand what your communication need is.. often after years diagnosing and treating you... even diagnosing your hearing loss !"
#10 "My surgery has a complete list of interpreters available for patients that struggle with English, I counted 23 of them my surgery said they could obtain with 24 hours notice. There wasn't a single contact if you were deaf and needed text, lip-speaking or sign support.' Waiting times for support for us, were 3 weeks not days... I felt like stranger in my own country and a 3rd class citizen."