Following a shocking report on the health of deaf people, by the Deaf Health Charity SignHealth, there will be a debate in the House of Lords on Monday (31/3/2014).
The debate will look at ways of improving the health of deaf people. SignHealth’s Sick Of It report shows that Deaf people have much higher rates of undiagnosed illness than hearing people do, and that even when a condition has been diagnosed it is likely to be poorly treated.
The reasons are a failure to supply sign language interpreters for consultations, difficultly getting an appointment in the first place, and a lack of accessible health information.
The Health Minister, Lord Howe, says Sick Of It is “immensely powerful”, and that, “it’s findings are very sobering … in fact, some of them I found very shocking”.
“There is no good reason why Deaf people should be twice as likely as hearing people to have undiagnosed high blood pressure; or why they should be more likely to have other undiagnosed conditions. That fewer than 15% of Deaf people say that their GP is good at listening to them, is something that concerns me very deeply.”
Lord Howe admits, “I can also assure you that the government recognises that a lot more needs to be done.”
The Labour Peer, Lord Hunt, the shadow spokesperson on health in the Lords, says the government “need to pull their fingers out, and get on with it and start to do something”. He believes that Monday’s debate will be “a great opportunity to raise the issues in the report, and to ask the Government what they are going to do about it”.
“It’s impossible to read this report and not feel shocked that the health service is systematically failing a section of our community like this,” says SignHealth’s Director of Communications, Paul Welsh. “Putting it right is not an expensive, or particularly difficult task. We’ve set out Prescriptions For Change in our report and they are simple. At the moment, the NHS is wasting £30m a year by missing diagnoses and failing to provide effective treatment.”
The Question for Short Debate, “on measures to be taken to improve the health of deaf people”, has been tabled by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. It will take place at 7.30pm on Monday 31st March.
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. The opening keynote will be from Stephen Dorrell, former Secretary of State for Health and chair of the Health Select Committee.
Case studies and copies of the report are available on request.
Please contact Paul Welsh, SignHealth’s Director of Communications, on 01494 687631 or
The research was carried out by SignHealth and academics at the University of Bristol, funded by a grant from the National Lottery.
Figures quoted for Deaf people are from SignHealth’s research, published in the Sick Of It report. Comparisons with the general population are largely drawn from the Health Survey for England.
62% of Deaf patients who were being treated for high blood pressure still did not have it under control, compared with 20% in the general population. Only one in three Deaf people with high cholesterol is on medication, compared with more than two in three hearing people with the same problem.
The use of the word Deaf with a capital D is a convention which identifies those people who were born deaf or lost their hearing before they learned to talk. Typically Deaf people use sign language as their first language.