A report published on June 9 is calling for urgent action to end the disadvantages it says deaf people still face when trying to use health services in the UK.
The report, compiled by The London Assembly Health Committee, says basic tasks such as making an appointment or getting advice from a doctor are harder for deaf or hard of hearing patients.
As a result, it adds, almost two-thirds of people have put off making use of the health service they are entitled to because they are worried about communication problems.
Dr Roger Wicks, director of policy and campaigns with the charity Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Despite the legal requirements, many GPs and hospitals are failing to provide accessible services for many of the 10 million people with hearing loss across the UK, leading to severe health inequalities.
“We’re extremely concerned that it’s not only costing our health service valuable time and money, because of missed or wasted appointments, but putting people’s lives in danger.”
Not being faced when spoken to or alerted when it’s time to see the doctor are two of the things deaf and hard of hearing people say they find most frustrating when visiting GP surgeries or hospitals.
The report has come up with several recommendations, one of which is that all health service staff should have deaf awareness training. Other recommendations include routinely collecting data on the extent of deaf disability and a universal standard for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting should be provided in GP surgeries and hospitals.