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NHS regulations breakthrough for Deaf

The NHS has published new rules to make health and social care more accessible to deaf and disabled people. 

The revised Accessible Information Standard which all organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must implement fully within a year, has been hailed as a breakthrough by local deaf charity, Gloucestershire Deaf Association (GDA).
 
The new rules include making sure that people get information in different formats if they need it, such as large print, easy read, braille and via email.  The Accessible Information Standard also tells organisations how to support people’s communication needs, for example by offering support from a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, deafblind manual interpreter or an advocate. 
 
In addition, as part of the new regulations, once someone’s communication needs have been agreed with that person, organisations must record it on his or her health and social care file to make it clear there is a need and explain how those needs should be met
 
GDA Chief Executive Jenny Hopkins says: "We could not be more pleased about these new regulations.  A major study by national deaf charity SignHealth was published last year, which highlighted the devastating impact of inequality in our health care system on Deaf sign language users in particular.  Generally speaking, Deaf people are as active as hearing people, eat a similar amount of vegetables, drink less alcohol and smoke far fewer cigarettes. So, why are they more likely to be overweight, twice as likely to have high blood pressure, and four times as likely to be on the verge of diabetes? Why are so many unknowingly living with health issues which can lead to heart attacks, stroke and other serious conditions?"
 
"On a weekly basis here in Gloucestershire, Deaf sign language users attend medical appointments where the surgery or hospital has failed to book an interpreter; they are told by opticians and dentists that the practice doesn’t have the money to provide sign language interpreter support. SignHealth’s report concluded that missed diagnosis and poor treatment is costing the NHS £30m a year.  We have to do better and these new rules are an important step to achieving that."
 
"Here in Gloucestershire we are blessed with one of the strongest and most vibrant relationships between a local Deaf Community and its affiliated deaf charity as you will find anywhere in the UK.  We stand ready to support health and social care professionals in implementing these new rules around Accessible Information Standard in the most effective and cost effective way possible."
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