AS part of Deaf Awareness Week (May 7 to 13), Scotland’s telehealth service, NHS 24, is highlighting its new pilot service which uses British Sign Language (BSL) to help Deaf people access its services.
NHS 24 provides a range of health care advice, information and support available through telephone, web and other digital channels.
The use of BSL interpreters in this pilot project means that Deaf people can access its telephone advice line and receive clinical attention when their GP surgery is closed using a face to face link via video or webcam technology.
Through a third party agency, the BSL user will use an online video software application to connect with a BSL interpreter, who will contact NHS 24, opening up a three-way call.
The service was developed by staff from NHS 24, external agencies working with and for the Deaf community, and patient representatives.
Staff at NHS 24 have been supported and updated on handling these types of calls, prior to the introduction of the service.
Lillian Lawson, Director of Scottish Council on Deafness and representative on the project team has been working with NHS 24, both on this pilot project and through the Public Partnership Forum (PPF), to improve access for this patient group.
She said: “Scottish Council on Deafness is delighted that positive steps have been taken to ensure that Deaf people can access NHS 24 in their own language, namely British Sign Language and this initiative should give Deaf people confidence to use NHS 24 services.”
This pilot follows on from the successful launch of the Breathing Space BSL webcam service, offering online advice, information and support for Deaf people in Scotland. Trained advisors use BSL to discuss any concerns that may be affecting an individual’s mental wellbeing.”