Following a shocking report on the health of deaf people, which was released last week by the Deaf health charity SignHealth, there will be a debate in the House of Lords today.
The debate will look at ways of improving the health of deaf people. SignHealth’s Sick Of It report shows that Deaf people have much higher rates of undiagnosed illness than hearing people do, and that even when a condition has been diagnosed it is likely to be poorly treated.
The reasons are a failure to supply sign language interpreters for consultations, diﬃculty getting an appointment in the ﬁrst place, and a lack of accessible health information.
The Health Minister, Lord Howe, says Sick Of It is “immensely powerful”, and that, “it’s ﬁndings are very sobering … in fact, some of them I found very shocking”.
“There is no good reason why Deaf people should be twice as likely as hearing people to have undiagnosed high blood pressure; or why they should be more likely to have other undiagnosed conditions. That fewer than 15% of Deaf people say that their GP is good at listening to them, is something that concerns me very deeply.”
Lord Howe admits, “I can also assure you that the government recognises that a lot more needs to be done.”
The Labour Peer, Lord Hunt, the shadow spokesperson on health in the Lords, says the government “need to pull their ﬁngers out, and get on with it and start to do something”. He believes that Monday’s debate will be “a great opportunity to raise the issues in the report, and to ask the Government what they are going to do about it”.
“It’s impossible to read this report and not feel shocked that the health service is systematically failing a section of our community like this,” says SignHealth’s Director of Communications, Paul Welsh. “Putting it right is not an expensive, or particularly diﬃcult task. We’ve set out Prescriptions For Change in our report and they are simple. At the moment, the NHS is wasting £30m a year by missing diagnoses and failing to provide eﬀective treatment.”
The Question for Short Debate, “on measures to be taken to improve the health of deaf people”, has been tabled by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. It will take place at 7.30pm tonight.
Read the Sick of it report by clicking here.
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