As I wrote in the weekend edition of The Argus, I recently read the news that the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust have signed up to a Charter pledging to improve access to health services for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind communities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. The charter sets out five pledges and commits the Trust to:
- Ensure access for deaf people to information and services
- Promote learning and high quality teaching of British Sign Language and lip speaking skills
- Support deaf children and families
- Ensure that staff have competence to communicate effectively with the deaf community
- Consult with the Trust’s deaf community on a regular basis
I would like to see a similar commitment from the NHS and other public sector agencies here in Sussex to improve their services! It would be great if some form of charter like this could be ascribed to by the NHS, by the various County and Unitary, District and Borough Councils, along with the Police and Fire and Rescue Service.
I have participated in a number of ‘Loop up Lewes’ meetings, as a result of my expertise on the subject of Audio Frequency Induction Loop Systems, and I know that a similar commitment by our public sector would be welcome by the members of that group. It is not fully appreciated by those of us who can hear and see reasonably well, that through the NHS we all pay a high price when such patients are left sitting in a waiting room, having arrived for their appointment in plenty of time. Their inability to hear their name being called or see their name displayed on the screens installed in the waiting area can lead to them missing their appointment. It is estimated that these missed appointments costs the NHS £2M a year, let alone the human and financial cost to the patients themselves. I am not aware of any similar analysis for other service providers, but there will be many areas where such inefficiencies express themselves. It would be great to do what we can to reduce these inefficiencies and improve the life experiences for people who are so often overlooked.