A research study carried out by patient information website; www.patient.co.uk and the charity SignHealth shows that more than half of deaf and hard of hearing people fine it difficult to communicate with their GP.
Some of the main issues raised by the 525 people who answered the survey were:
- 56 per cent of people said their hearing difficulties had led to poor communication, either when booking an appointment or at the GP consultation.
- 30 per cent said they had experienced communication problems when discussing their health – leading to missed symptoms, confusion about medication or running out of time at the consultation.
- 8 per cent of people said they experienced difficult to resolve communication problems on every surgery visit
- 37 per cent said they had had difficulties because staff - both GPs and practice staff – did not consistently face them when speaking
- 35 per cent said they had missed appointments because they had not heard their name being called
The survey showed that it was not just profoundly deaf patients who experience problems. (11% of the people who answered the survey were profoundly deaf). The remaining 64% said they were moderately deaf – yet they reported the same problems as the profoundly deaf people.
The survey also shows the many simple things that surgeries could do to improve communication. These include:
- Staff remembering to face patients when speaking (cited by 84 per cent of respondents); many people reported loss of communication when GPs turned to look at computer screens, for example
- Giving out printed information to support a consultation; only 11 per cent of patients said their surgeries did this, yet 64 per cent said it would be helpful; free patient information leaflets are available to all GP surgeries from www.patient.co.uk, which is accessed through surgery computer software
- Having display screens to announce consultations or fetching the patient from the waiting room (cited by 57 per cent of respondents).
Additional services are available for GPs – including the easy-to-use SignTranslate online interpreting service, developed by the SignHealth charity. The service links a British Sign Language interpreter, via a web-cam, to the live consultation – helping both GP and deaf patient to ensure clear communication.
Steve Powell, Chief Executive of SignHealth, said: “This is a timely survey that reveals the breadth and depth of problems faced by deaf patients across the
Press Release, 18th October 2009