Health group call for better information for people with disabilities when they go to GP or A&E

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are calling for better health information for those with

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are calling for better health information for those with learning difficulties and sensory impairmen - Credit: Archant

People with learning and sensory disabilities are not being offered easy to understand information when they use health and care services, according to a watchdog group.

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are calling for better access to services and inviting people to public forums.

Sandie Smith, chief executive, said: “If people cannot understand what they are being told about their health or care, then they haven’t lawfully given their consent to any treatment or change in their care arrangements.

“Not being able to understand what you are being told makes it much harder for you to manage your health and follow any treatment or care guidance.

“We know people with sensory and learning disabilities routinely have poorer health and often don’t live as long, as the general population.’

Healthwatch spoke to more than 180 disabled people locally about their experiences, and found many were not getting information in a way they could read or understand.

Jason, who is deaf and uses British Sign Language, ran into problems when he went to A&E with a lung condition, they say.

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“I asked if I could have an interpreter, and they said they couldn’t find one at such short notice,” he said.

He tried to communicate with staff by writing on his phone.

After seven hours in A&E, a qualified interpreter was found who explained to Jason he had a hole in his lung which had caused it to collapse.

The interpreter also explained the treatment needed which Jason was able to agree to.

“Imagine if there had been an interpreter from the start, we could have got the procedure done quickly, but I couldn’t consent because I didn’t know what was going on. Nurses, GPs, everyone needs a little bit of training.’

Healthwatch wants local health and care organisations to ensure:

• Staff know their legal responsibilities to people.

• Services can show people have understood their treatment and said yes to it.

• The Accessible Information Standard came into effect on August 2016.

• Services should make sure people can talk with them properly.

• Share your experiences at events on Tuesday November 21 from 6-8pm, Deafblind UK Conference Centre, Peterborough.

• Board Meeting in public on Wednesday November 15 from 7-8pm, Meadows Community Centre, Cambridge.