BSL and Grampian Health Board’s Consultation

By: A.C.

I cannot even imagine what a sensory deprivation is like. To be deprived of one’s sight or hearing and having to live in world which is operating for those who have little or no sensory impairment or deprivation, is beyond my comprehension or imagination.

I have had more than a few health problems over the years, some of which have affected my eyesight, and chemotherapy did affect my hearing temporarily. My experiences of diminishing sight and hearing are certainly nothing like full deprivation, but alarming enough that in order to make sure I understood everything that was being said to me at a cancer clinic appointment, I had my wife with me as my eyes and ears.

Now try to imagine what it is like for someone who has those sensory deprivations and has to attend a Hospital Clinic for the other health problems that will affect most of us at some point in our lives.

To be honest, when I was in my Oncologist’s Consulting room, everything was drifting past me like a slow –motion dream one sees in films.   The sound of the Oncologist’s voice seemed to be a muffled drone, and the room was very ‘other dimension’. Being given a definitive diagnosis of any serious illness is a shock. Fortunately I had my wife to listen to what was going on, write down important stuff about medicines, drugs, treatment plans and investigations yet to be experienced.

This morning (11 June 2018) there was a very important video and text report at the BBC Victoria Derbyshire Programme about a Health Board in England using more Video –BSL to interview patients in clinics. That video can be found here.

And the text story here.

That is in the South of England , and I decided to see what the Policy is in our own backyard. Fortunately, in Grampian health Board area there is a Consultation Draft of the NHS Grampian BSL document explaining the proposed use of BSL in Clinical situations.  That consultation is open to those who wish to comment until 1 July 2018.

How does Scotland and in particular Grampian Health Board ( GHB) differ from England? There is firstly The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 17th September 2015 and received Royal Assent on 22nd October 2015.

The Act:

“Requires Scottish Ministers to facilitate the promotion of, the use and understanding of the language known as British sign Language

“(2) In furtherance of that duty, the Scottish Ministers are to prepare, lay before the Scottish Parliament and publish national plans in relation to British Sign Language in accordance with this section (such a plan being in the Act referred to as a “National Plan”)”

Requires Scottish Ministers:

(b) to set out what the Scottish Ministers consider that relevant public authorities (see section 7) should or could do to promote, and facilitate the promotion of, the use and understanding of British Sign Language within their areas of responsibility.”

You can out more about the BSL Act here   http://bslscotlandact2015.scot/

In light of the BBC Report  at the time of writing,  this what GHB say in their Plan for  BSL, and  interpreting and video initiatives already in place :

Provision of “face to face” BSL interpretation :

NHS Grampian makes extensive use of the four freelance qualified BSL interpreters in Grampian.  All four have individual Service Level Agreements with NHS Grampian. A fifth BSL interpreter can be accessed through their employer North East Sensory Services.

The provision of professional BSL interpretation for members of our local deaf community when they access healthcare is common sense. This provision can also be deemed a legal requirement under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, the Equality Act 2010, the Equality Act (Specific duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 as amended, the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 and other relevant legislation.

Each year for the last 10 years, expenditure on “face to face” BSL interpretation has increased. In 2017/18 this expenditure was over £50,000. This trend will continue.”

For Video BSL interpretation the GHB say this in the Plan:

“Video BSL Video BSL is a new service introduced by NHS Grampian in February 2018 to make BSL more widely available. It runs alongside “face to face” BSL services, it does not replace them. Video BSL is useful for short routine appointments, while using our local “face to face” interpreters for more complex appointments.

A number of patients who have already used BSL pointed out that it gave them:

  • Anonymity when accessing sensitive healthcare
  • The option of a male or female interpreter

Video BSL is being rolled out over the next 2 years to:  Accident and Emergency Departments, Clinical Departments who regularly have BSL users attending

Having BSL interpretation available in 4 minutes in unplanned care situations is seen as especially valuable.

Video BSL is new technology which has caused some BSL users apprehension, hence the holding of the consultation event when BSL users could try out Video BSL in a nonclinical setting. Further events are planned.

It is freely acknowledged that Video BSL is not appropriate for all situations or all patients. At the consultation event, a number of patients sought reassurance that Video BSL would not replace “face to face” BSL, This assurance was given. A number of BSL users were also quick to appreciate the benefits of Video BSL in the provision of unplanned care.

We will be happy to provide training, support and advice to our colleagues in the three Health and Social Care Partnerships in Grampian, should they wish to introduce Video BSL for their services.”

I would again urge all BSL users to read the GHB Plan for BSL and make their views known.

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