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Action on Hearing Loss champions BSL users right to access interpreters in hospitals

Posted on 08/02/2012

This week, the health think tank, 2020 Health, revealed that, according to their Freedom of Information requests, the NHS in England spends £59,000 a day – £23million in the last year – on translating documents and providing interpreters.

2020 Health is urging NHS Trusts to stem the flow of translation costs and the TaxPayers’ Alliance said taxpayers would expect their money to go towards treatment for sick people, not on language services.

Action on Hearing Loss BSL Interpreter

Acting Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss, Paul Breckell, responded: "Action on Hearing Loss believes that it is essential that the 50,000 deaf people who communicate by British Sign Language (BSL) have access to high standard BSL / English interpretation services in healthcare settings.

"Under the Equality Act 2010, health services must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to be accessible to people with disabilities but, unfortunately, our research shows that 70% of BSL users admitted to accident and emergency departments were not provided with a BSL / English interpreter.

"People who are deaf have the right to the same level of service as other patients and, to avoid misunderstandings and frustration in what can often be very emotional circumstances, it is vital that hospitals pay for interpreters that fully meet their individual needs."

For free, confidential and impartial information for deaf and hard of hearing people, their families, friends, and professionals, contact the Action on Hearing Loss information line on 0808 808 0123 (freephone) or textphone 0808 808 9000 (freephone), or email

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