Deaf News: Hospital says sorry after deaf patient left “trapped”

Posted on June 8, 2012

Imagine going into hospital for several operations, without understanding exactly what was going to happen to you. You’d feel more than a little vulnerable, right? Well that’s exactly what happened to Michael May, a 27 year old BSL user from Plymouth.

The Plymouth Herald has reported how Michael, a patient at Derriford Hospital, had two operations despite being unable to understand the procedures he was going through.

Michael told the paper that in all his consultations and assessments he was given a BSL interpreter only once. The article reports how he felt “trapped” and as though he had been treated like a “second class citizen.”

Talking to The Herald through an interpreter, Michael said: “I feel so let down. The care I’ve had from nursing staff has been great but the communication has been a complete and utter breakdown.

“I’ve felt trapped. I’ve wanted to be able to understand things, be involved with my treatment and I couldn’t. I haven’t been able to understand my care. I have felt just like a doll in the system, a toy on a conveyor belt rather than a human being.

“I believe I’m not the only one. I think there are many deaf people who’ve had the same problems I’ve had. I feel we’re being treated like second-class citizens and we’ve had enough.”

Michael also told the Herald that he did not know what his most recent operation, on May 24, involved or why he has to inject himself in the stomach twice a day for six weeks.

The hospital has since apologised. However, major questions have to be asked about access to communication for Deaf patients in the healthcare system.

Research carried out earlier this year showed that over 80% of Deaf patients have felt frustrated after attending an appointment without an interpreter, which we reported on in this article. Rather than being the exception, what happened to Michael is increasingly the norm.

You can read the full story here:

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