Experience with GPs among people who are Deaf and hard of hearing

Healthwatch Bucks, the local health and social care champion for Buckinghamshire, has launched a new research project that will collect feedback from people with hearing loss.

The project aims to find out about their experiences with GP surgeries. It will focus on access to appointments and communication with surgery staff, including doctors.

Healthwatch Bucks Project Manager Alison Holloway says: “With this project, we want to look at where there might be inequalities in healthcare, then make recommendations that will help to tackle them.

“People who are Deaf or hard of hearing should be able to access appointments with their doctors as easily as those who have no hearing impairment. Likewise, they shouldn’t experience barriers to communication during appointments. For example, there should be reasonable provision for someone who needs BSL interpretation.

“We want to hear from local people who are Deaf or hard of hearing about their experiences of making appointments at GP surgeries. We also want to gather feedback on how they’ve found interacting with their practices’ receptionists and doctors when they’ve attended.”

According to hearing loss charity the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), 12 million adults in the UK have some degree of hearing loss – and this is set to rise to 14.2 million by 2035, thanks to our ageing population. More than 40% of over-50s report some hearing loss, as do 70% of people over 70.

Census data shows almost 20% of Buckinghamshire residents are aged 65 or over, so it’s likely there are many people in our county affected by hearing loss.

People can offer their feedback to us in confidence, via an online questionnaire or in person. To chat with Alison on the phone or face-to-face, please contact her via the Healthwatch Bucks website or on 01494 924421.

At the end of the research period for this project, Healthwatch Bucks will write a report that includes recommendations for improving support for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. This will be shared with service providers, policymakers and commissioners who will be asked to respond to the findings.

Zoe McIntosh, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Bucks, says:
“Our mission is to ensure that local people’s feedback makes a difference. That’s why we’re going directly to Deaf and hard of hearing people to conduct focus groups, and also asking them to feed back to us via our survey. We’ll share their experiences and our recommendations with the right people so we can help to bring about positive change where it’s needed.”

About Healthwatch Bucks
Healthwatch Bucks is one of 148 independent local Healthwatch organisations set up by the government under the Health and Social Care Act, 2012.
Our mission is to ensure that the voices of people who use health and social care services are heard, considered and acted upon.
By listening to the views of local people, we influence policymakers, commissioners and service providers to make improvements to care that benefit the community.
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