People who are deaf or who have hearing loss often face costly and unnecessary barriers to communication when they visit the GP or other NHS services, according to new research.
The Accessible Information Standard requires all providers of NHS care and publicly funded adult social care to meet the communication and information needs of people with disabilities and sensory loss, including the one in six people living with a hearing loss.
A leading UK charity’s ‘Access All Areas’ research found that most people with hearing loss are forced to struggle with the phone or go in person to book appointments for lack of other options such as online booking.
Similarly, one in seven had missed an appointment because they had not heard their name called out in the waiting room, and more than a quarter had said they did not understand their diagnosis after seeing their GP. NHS England estimates that missed appointments for people with all levels of hearing loss costs the NHS at least £14m every year.
A previous report by the Royal Voluntary Service also detailed the impact hearing loss has on older people. It revealed that half a million over-75s have not told family or friends about their hearing loss and two in five over 75s whose hearing has deteriorated are affected socially.
David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “This research proves how vital it is that we normalise hearing loss and hearing aids so older people seek the help they need. “There is a worryingly high level of under-diagnosis and as we are living in an ageing society this is a problem that is only going to grow.