An urgent medical examination for a deaf patient was delayed after hospital staff failed to book a sign language interpreter.
That was one of the experiences reported during an investigation by the patient group Healthwatch Hartlepool and Hartlepool Deaf Centre into local GP and hospital services in response to concerns raised by deaf patients. They presented a number of recommendations to Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board including better communication and staff training.
The investigation included visits by Healthwatch Hartlepool and Hartlepool Deaf Centre to North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals. Surveys were completed by eight town GP practices and also by deaf patients. Half of patients had missed GP appointments because they had no visual display screen to alert them it was their turn.
Hospitals were not always made aware patients are deaf, and patients are not routinely told if an interpreter has been booked when they receive appointment letters adding to their stress and anxiety. Others said they would like to be able to book GP appointments by text.