A new service has been launched that will make information about NHS primary care services accessible to Deaf people for the first time. Deaf people can now call NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre thanks to InterpreterNow, a service from the Deaf Health Charity SignHealth.
The NHS England Customer Contact Centre is a one-stop shop for information on NHS primary care services such as GPs, opticians, dentists and pharmacists. The Centre also helps with Freedom of Information requests and complaints about primary care.
Using the InterpreterNow Video Relay Service, Deaf people will be able to use their smartphone, tablet or PC to communicate with the NHS Customer Contact Centre in British Sign Language, via a fully qualified online interpreter.
The 6-month pilot with the NHS Customer Contact Centre is the latest step in making telephone-based health services accessible to Deaf people. Together with the NHS 111 BSL service, also delivered via InterpreterNow, it is helping to make telephone-based health services as easy for Deaf people to use as for hearing people.
InterpreterNow has a track record of working with other organisations to provide equal access for Deaf people to vital public services. As well as NHS111, InterpreterNow is also the service behind Leicestershire Police’s 101 BSL line and contactSCOTLAND (which allows people in Scotland to access any government service using BSL).
Commenting, John Maidens, Managing Director of InterpreterNow, said:
“We’re really thrilled to have worked with the NHS England Customer Contact Centre to make the service available to Deaf people. It’s an ideal way for Deaf people to find out what’s available, enabling them to make informed and independent choices.”
Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England said:
“We are really pleased to fund the InterpreterNow service and this initial pilot demonstrates our commitment to exploring partnerships, enabling equal access and improving services for people with hearing loss. Hearing problems are a growing challenge with an increasing number of people living with some form of hearing loss which can impact on their ability to fully participate in society.”