Andrew is SignHealth’s Medical Director. 2014/15 has been a significant year for his work.
Today I’m in London at an NHS England workshop on the implementation of the Accessible Information Standard. I’m with Paul Stemman, SignHealth’s Head
of Policy and Campaigns.
SignHealth’s Sick of It report revealed shocking inequalities in the health of Deaf people compared to everyone else. Medical staff are failing to listen to their Deaf patients and failing to explain things to them. The result? Poor diagnosis and treatment from the doctor and poorer health for the Deaf person.
The NHS England Accessible Information Standard is a set of rules to ensure that “people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss get information that they can access and understand, and any communication support they need.” SignHealth was one of the organisations asked by NHS England to help with the consultation process. Paul also co-ordinated and wrote the views
of the UK Council on Deafness (UKCoD’s).
All organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must follow the Accessible Information Standard by law. They will need to comply fully by 31 July 2016, having embedded them into their day-to-day practice, so that deaf people receive the same care as everyone else.
Paul and I have been working closely with Paul Welsh and other SignHealth colleagues to ensure that the Standard takes into account the recommendations of the Sick of It Report. We want to make sure it’s as strong as possible, so that it can make a positive impact on the health of deaf people. As the father of a Deaf daughter and a doctor for over thirty years, I am aware of the barriers and attitudes deaf people face.
SignHealth are continuing to work with the NHS and deaf people to raise awareness of the Standard, to ensure it is properly complied with, and that providers are challenged where provision falls short. It will take time to improve attitudes and care, but the Accessible Information Standard is
a big step along the way to improving health care and health for deaf people.