Our latest research project will focus on people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

We’re seeking feedback from people with any form of hearing loss about their experiences of booking and attending appointments at their GP surgery.

Hearing loss affects many of us

According to hearing loss charity the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), 12 million adults in the UK – one in five of us – have hearing loss greater than 25 dBHL.

dBHL is a way to describe a person’s hearing loss in decibels. 25 dBHL is the level that indicates mild hearing loss.

Around 10% of people with hearing loss in the UK have severe hearing loss or are Deaf. Meanwhile, 25,000 people in the UK are thought to use British Sign Language (BSL) as their main language.

RNID estimates that the number of UK adults with hearing loss above 25 dBHL will rise to 14.2 million by 2035. This is linked to our ageing population: more than 40% of over-50s report some hearing loss, as do 70% of people over 70.

Access and communication

Census data shows that almost 20% of people living in Buckinghamshire are over 65. Therefore, it’s likely there are many people in our county with various degrees of hearing loss.

Project manager Alison Holloway says:

With this project, we want to look at where there might be inequalities in healthcare, then make recommendations that will help to tackle them. People who are Deaf or hard of hearing should be able to access appointments with their doctors as easily as those who have no hearing impairment. Likewise, they shouldn’t experience barriers to communication during appointments. For example, there should be reasonable provision for someone who needs BSL interpretation.

We want to hear from local people who are Deaf or hard of hearing about their experiences of making appointments at GP surgeries. We also want to gather feedback on how they’ve found interacting with their practices’ receptionists and doctors when they’ve attended.

Take part in the survey

Impact and improvement

At the end of our research period, we’ll write a report that includes recommendations for improving services for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

This will be shared with service providers, policymakers and commissioners who will be asked to respond to our findings.

Zoe McIntosh, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Bucks, says:

Our mission is to ensure that local people’s feedback makes a difference. That’s why we’re going directly to Deaf and hard of hearing people to conduct focus groups, and also asking them to feed back to us via our survey. We’ll share their experiences and our recommendations with the right people so we can help to bring about positive change where it’s needed.

Published on 15 Feb, 2023

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