A Deaf woman whose GP surgery refused to provide a BSL interpreter has had her complaint supported by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The woman, referred to as Mrs E, was provided with a Primary Care Trust (PCT) funded BSL interpreter from 2007, but began experiencing problems in 2011.
Her GP practice stopped providing a BSL interpreter because PCT funding was withdrawn, and instead tried to communicate by using pen and paper, despite Mrs E being unable to understand written English. They told Mrs E if she wanted an interpreter, it was her responsibility to organise one.
“The Practice noted that Mrs E had been registered with it since 2007 and said that it ‘would have hoped that her written language skills would have improved considerably since’. It added that ‘lack of proficiency in English does not constitute a disability in the Disability Discrimination Act’.”
Mrs E left her healthcare appointments with no understanding of how to take her medication, and feared for the health of her unborn child.
With support from an advocate, Mrs E made a formal complaint, and the case was referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to be investigated.
The complaint was upheld and has resulted in the Practice and NHS Local Area Team ‘acknowledging and apologising for their failings’. The complaint has also been awarded financial compensation.
What is the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman?
- It is a free and independent service set up by Parliament.
- If a complaint is received about unfair treatment or poor service from government departments, public organisations or NHS England, it is investigated.
- Appropriate action is taken, and if necessary, public services are improved.
Tips on how to make a complaint