Supporting deaf people to have a voice

Deaf people have been telling Healthwatch Dudley about the challenges they face when communicating with health professionals and we responded by bringing together a group of people to talk about these experiences in more detail.

During the last year we have worked with Dudley Council Deaf Support Service to host bi-monthly meetings with people from the deaf community. These meetings allow local people who are profoundly deaf, to share their views about health and wellbeing and some of the problems they face when accessing services. We have invited representatives from Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, who have been listening and responding to a wide range of issues that have been raised with the support of British Sign Language interpreters.

A common issue with group members was anxiety about missing their turn whilst waiting for appointments if they cannot hear their names being called and they are not otherwise alerted. During a group discussion, it was suggested that this could be avoided with the use of vibrating and flashing pagers, which could be given to hearing impaired patients on arrival.

The hospital team listened and vibrating pagers have now been introduced to outpatients and other waiting areas across the Trust.

We shared this positive feedback with the Dudley Patient Opportunity Panel which is made up of local patient participation groups in Dudley borough. Members there are keen to support the same initiative within GP surgeries.

Group members have also been involved with reviewing posters for display within the Trust and as a result of our meetings, the Trust is also exploring how more formal deaf awareness training can be delivered to their staff, to complement their existing awareness sessions.

Members of the Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group staff team have also been invited to help the group to understand more about what they do. The group hopes that this will provide them with even more opportunities to influence change.


“Healthwatch Dudley has continued to provide valuable insight to The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and form an extra dimension to the many different ways we like to hear from our patients about the services we provide. We have further developed the relationship we have with Healthwatch through the work of our Patient Experience Group alongside other external partners. We are particularly proud of the joint work we have undertaken with the Dudley Deaf Focus Group to help make improvements for people with a hearing impairment, including the introduction of pagers so people know when it is their appointment time and more awareness raised with staff. I very much look forward to fostering the relationship we have established and developing it further in the future.”

Diane Wake, Chief Executive The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

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