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‘Bad deal’ for deaf at doctors

ORGANISATIONS representing deaf people are campaigning for improved access at GP practices and health centres.

They also want health providers to commission interpreting services that use only appropriately qualified sign language interpreters for deaf patients.

New research by Action on Hearing shows that 41% of surveyed people who use British Sign Language as their first language have left a health appointment feeling confused about their medical condition, because the interpretation was not up to standard.

More than two out of three people said they had asked for an interpreter to be booked for a GP appointment but did not get one.

The charity says that with an increase in generic spoken language agencies now offering BSL interpreting, as well as increasing pressures on cost, BSL interpreters used in a medical setting are not always adequately qualified.

The charity strongly recommends that all sign language Interpreters used by healthcare providers should be registered with the National Registers of Communication Professionals.

Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, said: “This is a basic issue of human rights and it’s vital that commissioners of healthcare services ensure that appropriately qualified sign language Interpreters are used.

“It’s essential that there is clear communication between patients and health professionals, so that medical information is conveyed without any confusion.

“We want standards in communication for people with a hearing loss to be improved and meet the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010.”

To support the campaign visit

Action on Hearing Loss Information Line: 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or 0808 808 9000 (textphone) or email:

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