The Deaf Health Charity SignHeath have written an open letter to the new Chief Executive of NHS England, welcoming his promise to tackle preventable diseases, and asking him to make Deaf people a priority.
On the day of his appointment, Simon Stevens said he want the health service to “get a better grip on prevention”, to stop “lots of diabetes, heart conditions, and other things”.
The Sick Of It report, published by SignHealth in March, showed that Deaf people are much more likely than hearing people to have undiagnosed heart and pre-diabetic conditions. It’s also more likely that when a patient does have the conditions diagnosed, their treatment is ineffective.
Steve Powell, Chief Executive of SignHealth, has asked Simon Stevens to act on the Prescriptions For Change in the report. They are simple and cost-effective chains which will help to improve the health of Deaf people, and save the NHS £30 million a year on late and poor treatment of preventable diseases.
Steve says, “many of the changes needed to help Deaf people will also benefit the population generally, so beginning with this area of acute need will serve the NHS and its patients well.
He says he is writing an open letter, ” in the hope that together we can begin a collective discussion which leads to change.
“Your intentions are admirable, but intentions alone won’t improve the health of Deaf people.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The “Sick Of It” report was launched on 25th March 2014 at Westminster Central Hall, followed by a day long conference on Deaf health.
Case studies and copies of the report are available on request.
Please contact Paul Welsh, SignHealth’s Director of Communications, on 01494 687631 or
CONTENT OF LETTER
I’d like to congratulate you on your appointment, and welcome the comments you made on your first day in the job. I’m writing to you and sharing the letter with the Deaf community in the hope that together we can begin a collective discussion which leads to change.
It is encouraging to see you recognise that “perhaps a fifth of the health service budget is currently going on conditions that might be preventable, and if we don’t get a better grip on prevention then that is going to show up as lots of diabetes, heart conditions, and other things”.
The Sick Of It report by SignHealth was published late last month, the first large-scale study of the health of Deaf people ever carried out.
That report showed that Deaf people have much higher rates of missed diagnosis than the rest of the population, and when conditions are treated they are also far more likely to be receiving ineffective treatment.
High blood pressure is a case in point. Deaf people are twice as likely as hearing people to have high blood pressure and not to know about it. Those who have been diagnosed are three times more likely not to have it under control.
The NHS is unintentionally neglecting Deaf people. Access is made difficult, interpreters are not provided to ensure effective and accurate consultations, and health messages are not offered in ways that Deaf people can access them.
We calculate that it is costing the NHS £30 million a year.
Many of the changes needed to help Deaf people will also benefit the population generally, so beginning with this area of acute need will serve the NHS and its patients well.
Can I please urge you to read our report, and to act on its simple and cost effective recommendations, urgently. Your intentions are admirable, but intentions alone won’t improve the health of Deaf people.
Yours in hope,
CEO, The Deaf Health Charity SignHealth