News & Events

Brilliant new Blog re:Sick Of It Conference

I attended the Sick of It Conference in London on March 25th. I found it very informative and emotive.

Sign Health worked in conjunction with Bristol University to carry out an extensive study into Deaf peoples' experiences of accessing health care. The Big Lottery awarded a grant to support the research and BUPA provided the private health assessments.

The project was split into three phases, the first phase invited Deaf people to complete an online questionnaire, 533 people responded, the second phase involved further questioning and a selection process ensured that a mix of ages, gender and ethnicity were in place to ensure a fair representation across the project.

The final stage involved 47 in-depth health assessments carried out with a BUPA professional and an interpreter.

The results of these assessments were then used to form the basis of the report. Sign Health highlighted the main areas to be; a lack of access to communication, '70% of Deaf people who haven't been to their GP recently but wanted to, didn't go mainly because there was no interpreter'.

For as long as I can remember restricted access to quality communication has been a significant problem within the Deaf community. How many hearing people do you know would be forced to 'walk' to their GP surgery to make a doctors appointment? Sadly this is the case for the majority of respondents in the survey, almost all of them said that even contacting their surgeries was problematic. In today's technological age you'd think that all surgeries would have a text messaging service?

Then, once given an appointment, often these would be carried out without the aid of an interpreter, patients were forced to lip read or converse by writing information back and forth with thier GP. '8 out of 10 deaf people want to use sign language in a consultation, sadly only 3 out of 10 are given the chance'. Isn't it a basic human right to be able to present yourself at a doctors surgery, explain your illness or worry, have a consultation in your first language then leave with a diagnosis?

Misdiagnosis in these circumstances is high, Sign Health has discovered that misdiagnosis is costing the NHS an estimated £30 million per year.

Even with a diagnosis, many patients admitted to leaving their consultation under informed and not fully aware of their diagnosis or treatment plans. In today's society, many people turn to the internet for further information on health-related topics, the NHS website has a wealth of information, articles and videos, there are approximately 900 videos on the NHS website, only 10 of them have been translated into BSL, that's only just over 1%.

During my time at the conference I was reflecting on the situation in the Southwest, and Devon in particular, I feel very proud to be part of an interpreting agency that holds a contract to provide our local Deaf community and NHS provision with top quality interpreter access.

We have been providing a high level, cost-effective service for more than six years, I do believe we are still a long way from being perfect but I am secure in the knowledge that our local community can rely on and trust Deafinite Interpreters to provide a service that offers equality at the same time as peace of mind.

I look forward to a time when equality is a given and not something that has to be fought for.

We are the preferred supplier for the following service providers

  • Devon County Council
  • NHS Devon
  • Exeter City Council
  • Royal Devon and Exeter - NHS Foundation Trust
  • South Devon Healthcare - NHS Foundation Trust
  • Torbay NHS - Care Trust
  • Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education
  • Living Options

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