Thursday, 1 April 2021
It's what they are saying too. BSL users now must demand the NHS fulfil its legal obligation to enable deaf and HoH to access its health provision. After all, the NHS was created in 1948, that the deaf and HoH are still relying on badly funded and biased charities for access after 70 years, is the reason SignHealth has now found itself in this position and deaf stand to lose what access they have. Deaf campaigns failed to demand proper access, in some misguided attempt to preserve culture, and control over deaf people, but there are other BSL charities still trying to do the same and will soon fold as well, last year 5 did again because they wasted money on culture, not need.
Charity was NEVER designed to replace rights, but that is what it is doing, switching state reliance, to charitable reliance, but it always relied on handouts, now deaf and HoH must start health access demands in earnest NOT a demand to re-fund charities again who clearly have been exposed as unable to fulfil its promises, these support charities aren't run BY deaf people, but freelance BSL terps. The 'Deaf' must condemn the British Deaf Association who used deaf rights as a 'weapon' to maintain the deaf in dependency and reliance on others and on them.
It is with urgency, they address the role of the BSL interpreters, a random hotch-potch of part-time and unregulated support that leaves the sign user at the mercy of market forces, throwing 'rights' into some farcical situation. Exactly the position SignHealth found itself in.
With the hopeful demise of charitable support for 'rights by handouts' now failing, we can't help feeling Covid did the deaf a favour, in exposing it all, now they must address their own elephant in the room, please don't sign a petition to go backwards again. SignHealth posted to ATR approving of their own demise, their CEO tweeting support to ATR , now is the time for the NHS to put up and for charity to stop giving them an opt-out. SignHealth also approved another ATR blog clarifying why, sign health should NOT be doing the NHS job. Meanwhile, various random deaf campaigners are crying foul, and failing to accept their role in the demise of their own support.
The Blurb: (But still suggesting they can be an answer, all is confusion! but the reason is pretty basic, they face job losses, that is their priority, not NHS access for the deaf BSL user!).
In March 2020, as lockdown came into effect and services across the country switched to phone consultations, Deaf people needed a solution fast to address this new barrier to healthcare in the UK. The Deaf health charity SignHealth launched a free on-demand 24/7 remote interpreting service called BSL Health Access, in partnership with the company, InterpreterNow, to enable Deaf people to access to medical services over the phone, free of charge.
(And thus taking the onus AWAY from the NHS to set up its own services).
When BSL Health Access launched, SignHealth optimistic that NHS England or another government body would pay for the service in order to make phone consultations accessible to Deaf people. In the meantime, SignHealth invested £800,000 from their own reserves to kickstart the service and ensure Deaf people were not left waiting. Late in 2020, the NHS agreed to cover the running costs from December to the end of March 2021 to ensure the service continued into the winter while the NHS reviewed British Sign Language (BSL) provision more broadly. SignHealth have been told that that review is not yet complete.
After investing £800,000 from their reserves, SignHealth are unable to cover the costs of the service. The NHS has not committed any further funding for April 1st onwards, effectively closing the service of BSL Health Access.
James Watson-O’Neill, SignHealth Chief Executive, said:
“I am incredibly proud of what BSL Health Access has achieved and I will always be grateful to SignHealth’s deaf-led Board of Trustees for approving such a significant investment to fund this innovation. I hope that we can work together with NHS England and individual NHS providers to find a long-term sustainable solution. Access to health services is a right, not a privilege. Deaf people, whose health is already poorer than hearing people’s, deserve excellent access to health care in British Sign Language.”
“As it stands, BSL Health Access will be switched off at midnight on 31st March 2021. BSL Health Access is now in the hands of the NHS and we call for NHS England to continue to fund this vital service, fast.”