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Deaf patients see ‘massive improvement’ in medical services after complaints raised

Survey finds services have improved for deaf people in Hartlepool
Survey finds services have improved for deaf people in Hartlepool

Health bosses have vowed to continue improving care for deaf patients after ‘massive improvements’ in services provided.

Healthwatch Hartlepool and Hartlepool Deaf Centre have been holding a joint investigation into the experience of deaf patients at local GP and hospital services.

Councillor Stephen Thomas

Councillor Stephen Thomas

This came after concerns were raised over the lack of interpreters for patients and the lack of awareness and training given to staff.

The results, presented to the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, showed that in the past year, various measures had been taken to improve services for deaf patients.

Coun Stephen Thomas, development officer for the Healthwatch, said a lot of good work had taken place, which will continue.

He said: “Clearly since we last came to committee there has been massive improvements within the hospital trust.

“People can be quick to criticise but we have to congratulate the work of North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals.

“It has been a little bit slower in GPs but we hope to see development soon.

“Feedback from the deaf community shows some of the work is bearing fruits.”

Wendy Harrison, from the Hartlepool Deaf Centre, said measures implemented included holding an awareness training sessions for nurses and assistant nurses, which was attended by 23 people earlier this year.

She also said a meeting had been arranged for later this year with a view to making the training an annual event due to the positive responses received.

Work is also ongoing by the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG to provide the same training for GPs.

North Tees Hospital has also introduced more visual indicators to alert deaf patients to when they are being called up for appointments, and ‘sensory loss resource boxes’ which includes equipment to help communicate.

They will also look at the possibility of deaf patients being able to contact GPs via text as opposed to phone calls and making sure interpreters are on hand when necessary.

Ms Harrison said: “Deaf people do need to have interpreters when going for appointments.

“Speaking to the nurses on the wards they were really keen for the training and it has had positive feedback so far.

“It is all so there is that little bit of communication going on on the wards.”

A deaf awareness session will also be carried out to Jobcentre Plus staff in Hartlepool later this month to aid people with hearing difficulties to find work.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service