Summary – Participants in this research reported that Health providers were regularly unable to provide qualified interpreters, even for scheduled appointments. Alarmingly out of 23 people who had attended A&E in the last 2 years only one person had been provided with a qualified interpreter.
In relation to scheduled medical appointments people reported that they were often told that there were no interpreters available or that the health provider had refused to book an interpreter. In some cases the interpreter had been cancelled by the provider without the patient being informed. A number of people told us that they had stopped requesting interpreters for medical appointments because of previous experiences; reasons given included “the interpreter provided wasn’t good enough” (not qualified) and “I knew there would be no point in asking.”
Participants felt that the service provided by A&E was particularly bad. Qualified interpreters were never available when needed and receptionists often did not know where to find information about qualified BSL interpreters in order to book them. Staff often had little or no Deaf awareness and at times had a poor attitude towards Deaf patients.
86 % of people taking part in our research were not aware of the Accessible Information Standard and of the 14% who said they were aware the majority felt that they had not been fully informed and that the information should have been provided to them in BSL.
When asked what would improve access to Health Services participants overwhelmingly told us that qualified BSL interpreters should be available at every stage of their experience of Health Services from A&E through to scheduled hospital and dentist appointments and when visiting their GP. People also felt that all staff within the Health Service should have a good level of Deaf awareness.