This research report assessed the level of accessibility to primary care services in Northern Ireland for people with a sensory disability from a GP perspective.
In 2009 we came together with RNIB and the British Deaf Association (BDA) to carry out a survey of all GP practices in Northern Ireland to assess how far they had met their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995).
25% of GP practices responded to a series of questions on: contact facilities; information provision; communicating with patients while in the practice; emergency procedures; support arrangements for mobility and communication needs; staff training; and complaints processes.
The research found that only 15% of GPs had had training on disability issues and only 16% of practices had an induction loop for hearing aid users installed in their consultation rooms.
However, there was a growth in the number of practices offering an email address for patients to contact them, and in the number of practices which had a visual display board in reception.
Almost two thirds of respondents said they felt that there were ways in which RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss or BDA could help them to improve accessibility, and a lack of awareness on the part of GP practices was the main barrier to improvement.
After successfully lobbying for support for GPs, the Health and Social Care Board issued practical guidance to GPs on behalf of Action on Hearing Loss and RNIB outlining the steps they can take to improve access for people with sensory disability. The guidance Best Practice Guidance Creating accessible primary care services for people with sensory loss is available on our website.