A PETITION has been launched calling on health trusts to use professional sign language interpreters instead of close family members when dealing with deaf patients.
The woman behind it is Pearl Clinton from Shirley, who, at the age of just 12, was called upon by medics at Heartland Hospital to break bad news to a close family member who is deaf.
Two years ago, again at Heartlands, she found herself in the same situation when her Nan, who is also deaf, was in hospital for 12 weeks.
“We all had to take it in turns to speak to specialists which involved taking time off work to fit in with their schedule,” said Pearl who dedicating herself to making the world more sign-friendly and has launched her own firm The Signlife.
“I’m 30 this year and this sort of omission by hospitals, relying on family members to pass on medically sensitive information just isn’t good enough,” she said.
“A few months ago I a saw a story from a lady called Annie from Sheffield who had gone through the same experiences as myself and I thought ‘this just isn’t good enough’ and decided to organise the petition.
“The thing is there is a budget for this type of thing, every hospital has trust funds and it’s just making the staff aware of it.
“Having to break such news and interpret to a family member, for example, they have a terminal illness, complications to their health or sudden death… leaves a lasting impact to their mental health and being disregarded as a family member themselves.”
And she said the issue didn’t just apply to those who are deaf, but also to people who’s first language is not English.
A spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham, which runs Heartlands Hospital, said: “Interpreting services are available for both inpatients and outpatients at our hospitals and can be booked by either patients or clinicians.”
For more on The Signlife visit: http://www.thesignlife.co.uk/.
To sign Pearl’s petition, visit: https://www.change.org/p/hospitals-using-bsl-interpreters-for-all-medical-settings