Helping those with hearing loss

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Action on Hearing Loss Scotland is calling on local GPs to ensure they communicate in ways that meet the individual needs of patients with hearing loss.

Their plea follows the charity’s UK-wide research which found 28 per cent of respondents had been unclear about a diagnosis during an appointment.

For its new report entitled ‘Access all areas?’ the charity’s survey found patients who felt unclear after a consultation attributed the misunderstandings to their GP not facing them (64 per cent) and not always speaking clearly (57 per cent).

Action on Hearing Loss says the findings suggest a severe lack of deaf awareness among GPs which could easily be resolved through training and making simple adjustments.

The charity is also urging GP surgeries to have clear procedures in place to record details of patients’ hearing loss and their individual communication needs after finding that, nationally, only 39 per cent of respondents have this vital information recorded.

Under the Equality Act 2010, GP surgeries must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be accessible to people with disabilities and ensure that people who have hearing loss experience the same level of service as other patients.

Chief Executive Paul Breckell said: “It’s disappointing that many people with hearing loss have difficulty understanding vital health advice because GPs aren’t meeting individual communication needs. “With deaf awareness training and simple changes, GPs can provide a much better service for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing and help avoid unnecessary follow-up appointments or the risk of exacerbated poor health.”

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland encourages GP surgeries to keep a note that the patient has a hearing loss on their record and check how they would prefer to make an appointment.

The surgery should enable patients to contact them by email, textphone or SMS as well as by telephone.

To read the ‘Access all areas?’ report, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/access