The London Assembly says that it must work urgently to get deaf people better access to healthcare, because deaf people are battling against injustice.
“It is a shocking fact that deaf people are more likely to suffer ill health than other people, simply because it is harder for them to use the health services that many of us take for granted’, says the report by the Health Committee of the London Assembly.
“This is unacceptable and has to change”.
The report quotes from SignHealth’s Sick Of It research, and finds that good communication is probably the biggest single thing which would improve deaf health.
It also echoes the findings of SignHealth’s Sick Of It report, saying:
* Basic things such as making and appointment or getting advice from a doctor are harder than for hearing people.
* Deaf people are put off making use of the health service because it is too difficult.
* Health service providers have not tackled inequality, despite the Equality Act 2010.
The report says that it is disappointing that the situation doesn’t seem to have improved in the last twenty years, and that the Equality Act 2010 has not made any significant difference to the service deaf people get.
They suggest beginning by collecting better information on the deaf population of London, starting with an accurate estimate of the number of deaf people in the capital. At the moment there are wildly varying guesses of the number of deaf people in Britain, which makes providing support even more difficult.
Other recommendations in the report:
Local Clinical Commissioning Groups should work together to provide the communication support that deaf people need.
Health staff need to be given deaf awareness training.
Hospitals need to make better use of the digital world to make it easier for deaf people to get access.
It needs to be easier to make a complaint.
SignHealth gave assistance to the Assembly as they prepared the report, and presented evidence too.
“It’s encouraging to see an influential and powerful organisation like the London Assembly acknowledging what deaf people and SignHealth have known for a long time”, says SignHealth’s Director of Communications, Paul Welsh. “What is important is that they now show a lead on this and actually deliver on the recommendations they’ve made. They need to ensure that deaf people in London begin to get a health service equivalent to hearing people”.
The report has been compiled by the Assembly’s Health Committee because, by law, the Mayor must work to reduce inequalities in healthcare in London.
The Assembly say they want the document to make the challenges that deaf people face much better known. They hope they’ve provided ideas which will help push forward changes to make sure that deaf people get much better access to healthcare.
photo credit: London Assembly Building, Paul Hudson