Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Contact: Jodie Kloss / Alan Garside  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence


    There were no apologies for absence.



Disclosure of interests




Scope of the review pdf icon PDF 163 KB

    The scrutiny proposal, submitted by Councillor Karen Collett, is attached.


    Councillor Collett to be invited to provide the background to her proposal.


    Attached to the agenda is the NHS Accessible Information Standard, referred to in the scrutiny proposal, which sets out the standard to be attained in all NHS services.


    Additional documents:


    Councillor Collett introduced the task group outlining the reasons for proposing this review following her meeting with Watford Deaf Club.


    Deaf people were not having their communication needs met when accessing local health services. This was resulting in fear, frustration and delays in their medical care. Processes, records and staff training all needed to be improved.


    The task group would investigate these issues, learning from the experiences of the deaf community at this meeting and then asking questions of representatives from health services at an evidence session before producing a report.




Discussion with members of the deaf community

    Members of the deaf community will be in attendance to share their experiences of accessing health services.


    The task group took evidence from the members of the deaf community. They shared experiences covering primary care, routine hospital appointments, emergency care and the administrative processes related to these services. Key messages from the witnesses were:


    ·        The deaf community experienced significant delays in their medical care because of the lack of understanding about or provision of communication assistance. 

    ·        Deaf people were not being given the opportunity to ask for the type of communication assistance to suit their needs.

    ·        One change that would make a big difference to the care received would be clear notes on patients’ records denoting that they were deaf and required an interpreter and if this information was effectively passed between departments.

    ·        Little information was provided in letters about whether an interpreter had been booked or how this could happen. Patients had to use the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to try and ensure an interpreter was present.  Although there was demand for interpreters, one could usually be available if booked in a timely manner.

    ·        The main way that patients were asked to communicate with services was by telephone; it was not always possible to text or email the surgeries or departments.

    ·        If a friend or family member made a call on behalf of a deaf person, there were issues related to data protection.

    ·        There was a lack of understanding about how deaf people communicated amongst medical and administrative staff and how to assist them when they arrived. There was a need for more training for staff to understand the policies and standards that applied.

    ·        It was not always possible or appropriate for pen and paper to be used and staff were not aware of British Sign Language (BSL) or how to book a BSL interpreter.  It was not widely understood that English was the second language of many deaf people.

    ·        There was a need for provision to be made for interim communication measures to be in place in emergency situations or while an interpreter was awaited. As well as pen and paper, technology could be used to make use of remote interpreting services or other applications. Such technology would also be useful for patients with learning or other disabilities.

    ·        Staff should be trained in some basic signs to assist when no interpreter was present.

    ·        Lack of interim communication measures had an impact on the consent required for medical procedures; deaf patients could feel pressured by the situation and give consent without fully understanding what was being asked.

    ·        When an interpreter was in attendance, longer appointments were needed but this was generally not accommodated.

    ·        There was variation in provision across health services which resulted in frustration for patients.

    ·        By contrast, one example of good practice was the Police Link Officer for Deaf People (PLOD) programme run by the police which assisted the deaf community.

    ·        The result of these issues was that deaf people felt that they lost their independence when dealing with health services and felt frustrated and marginalised.


    The task group was concerned with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Evidence-gathering session

    A daytime evidence-gathering session is scheduled for Tuesday 25 February at the Town Hall.


    The task group is asked to confirm which organisations they would like to be represented on that day.


    Councillors are further asked to identify key issues for discussion, in light of the information provided by members of the deaf community at this meeting.



    The task group would hold an evidence gathering session in February to ask questions of health professionals based on what they had learned.


    Areas that the task group would focus on would include:

    ·        Policies on how to ensure health services were accessible.

    ·        How the effectiveness of these policies were monitored.

    ·        Training in both the policies and in basic BSL.

    ·        Interim communication measures when no interpreter was present.


    It was agreed that the following organisations would be invited to attend:

    ·        Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group.

    ·        West Hertfordshire Hospital Trust (WHHT).

    ·        East of England Ambulance Service.

    ·        WHHT PALS service.



Next steps

    The task group is asked to consider any further next steps that they feel would be beneficial before the next meeting.


    The task group agreed:


    ·        Once the report had been reviewed by Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it would be forwarded to the Health and Wellbeing Forum.

    ·        Consideration should be given to establishing a Deaf Forum, as part of the task group’s recommendations.

    ·        The task group’s final report should be sent to the Health Scrutiny Committee at Hertfordshire County Council with a possible recommendation to consider whether there are wider implications across the county.

    ·        A copy of the report should be sent to Watford’s MP.  Local residents should also be encouraged to write to him with these concerns as some issues were national in scope.







    Health Services for the Deaf Task Group


    The meeting began at 6.30 pm

    and ended at 8.20 pm



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