Do you get frustrated trying to get a GP appointment? Imagine how much harder it is when you are deaf, says Whittlesey mum

Katie Taylor of Whittlesey

Katie Taylor of Whittlesey - Credit: Archant

A 41 year old mum who is deaf and has ME has spoken of the difficulty of getting doctor’s appointments when yo are disabled.

Katie Taylor, 41, said it was not a complaint of a particular surgery, but with nationwide NHS cuts and over stretched services, it is difficult enough for those who can hear never mind those who can’t.

Katie, of Whittlesey, said: “To use the Next Generation Text (NGT) service, formerly known as Typetalk, you have to follow a process each time you make a call.

“This involves opening the smartphone app, signing in and calling the number.

“The app and the telephone call are linked and ou type messages to the relay person. They talk to whoever you are calling and type their message back to you.

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“If the phone is engaged, you have to close the call on the app, hang up and try it all over again.

“If the phone call gets answered you have to wait for a relay operator to be available. This is sometimes 10-20 seconds. Meanwhile the person you are ringing may have hung up.

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“Or they have an automated answering service, which the operator will have missed the beginning of, so confusion is present from the offset,” she said.

“The NGT service is much harder to use with an automated system at the GP surgery. So when I have rung this way previously at 8am I have maybe been through the process 30 plus times before I get answered and put in their queue and finally speak to someone and chances are incredibly high that the appointments will have all gone.

“It’s a time consuming process and not as simple as someone just pressing the redial button on their phone.

“Also many people require explanation of the service and are uncomfortable talking through it and have even outright refused as it’s not ‘confidential’.

“Another issue is doctors not being able to hear my name on their tannoy calling system whilst in the waiting room. To get round this I have to queue to tell the receptionist when I arrive and inform them I won’t be able to hear the tannoy.

“The receptionist puts an electronic ‘tag message’ for the doctor to come and get me from the waiting room. I then sit near the door, if I can get a seat, and watch vigilantly for a person to come.”

Even then she may miss them calling and worries about watching out for her turn.

“I cannot wait for the right person to come to the door as in a big surgery, seeing different doctors, I don’t know what they look like.”

Pre planned appointments are weeks ahead and turning up on the day at the surgery is getting harder. She has ended up being 20 down the queue at 7.50am.

“It is hard for normal people but much harder for a disabled person,” she said.

“I am unlucky enough to have ME as well as being deaf so I am usually exhausted and in pain so to have to spend extra time or concentration in something as simple as making or attending a GP appointment is the only thing I’m able to do that day.“

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