Sunday, 27 January 2019

State of the Welsh NHS approaches to the deaf and HI (2019).

Image result for CI's in WalesGr┼Áp Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol Health and Social Services Group 

Dear ATR

Thank you for your e-mail of 6 January addressed to Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services regarding the figures of cochlear implants and access for deaf and hard of hearing people in the Welsh NHS.  I have been asked to reply on this occasion. 

The following numbers are for all implants carried out in Wales (Paediatrics implants are carried out in Central Manchester for north Wales patients). 

                                                   2016/17 2017/18 2018/19*       
                                                      Adults 43, 31, 24 
                                             Paediatrics 13, 12, 12,
                                                      Total 56 43 36 
                                *the position as of the 31st of December 2018 

With regards to access for deaf and hard of hearing people in the Welsh NHS, there is a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to deliver equality of access to healthcare services for disabled people.  This duty is anticipatory and requires public bodies to be proactive in making adjustments to ensure all access and communication needs are met.   

The Welsh Government’s commitment to tackling the difficulties faced by the sensory loss community when accessing healthcare services is rooted in the expectation that healthcare organisations should develop accessible information policies to address the communication needs of people with sensory loss.   In recognition of the difficulties faced by patients with sensory loss, the “All Wales Standards for Accessible Communication and Information for People with Sensory Loss” was launched by the Welsh Government in December 2013. 

The purpose of these standards is to ensure that the communication and information needs of people with a sensory loss are met when accessing our healthcare services. They provide guidance to NHS staff on how to ensure patients’ information and communication support needs are met, which would include text support or lip-reading support, as well as BSL. 

All Health Boards and Trusts have put in place implementation arrangements to deliver on the standards to ensure all services are accessible and available including the deaf community through the communication medium of choice.   

Thank you for writing on this matter. I hope you have found my reply helpful. 

Yours sincerely,    
Christopher Maton Government Business Team 

[ATR extends many thanks to Mr Maton for is help].

The question seems to be that the 'unequal access' with regards to the Deaf and the HoH is down to supply and demand and that the BSL user is making the majority of demands for support on the Welsh NHS, despite being the minority.  As ATR did not ask for a specific FOI request for lip speaking/text usage at this time, as we wanted CI comparisons with the rest of the UK. 

Quite obviously as it is down to individual Trusts, ATR would have to contact them all because there are discrepancies on statistical gathering, specific questions not asked because deaf and HoH stats are often inclusive AND exclusive of either sector, it was a question asked of the all-party sensory committee and got no answer.

ATR will pursue options shortly to ascertain what, if any, demand has been made for lip-speaking or text assistance to the Welsh NHS.  It could explain why Welsh NHS systems are using public Information output randomly in video e.g. that contains little or no access for the two areas described, aka to include lip speaking and text.  As they are obliged to 'anticipate' HoH formats,  this does not appear to be happening at all, it is just captions sometimes and sign all the time. Obviously, hospitals, charities, and GP's have different stats, that may or may not be included within the NHS whole.  It's a minefield of misinformation at present because there is no set approach to gathering facts.

It would appear BSL being likened to a different language, also gives them a higher support priority because the Assembly links their cause to the Welsh language right of inclusion.  An issue ATR suggests distorts access issues.