"Sign Language Interpreters in NHS Fife"

About: NHS Fife

(as the patient),

I am a Deaf person and rely on some lipspeaking and British Sign Language. I always use the same interpreter for my NHS appointments, as I can communicate effectively with this interpreter. It also gives me confidence that I understand what is being said and the NHS staff fully understand me.

In Fife previously NHS staff contacted Fife Council, Deaf Communication Service to request a sign language interpreter and everything was booked quickly. The staff would call direct to DCS at the same time of booking the patients appointment. Deaf people knew an interpreter would attend our appointments.

However NHS have implemented a new stystem for Sign Language interpreters. This means that NHS staff must contact the Equality & Diversity Team within NHS Fife to request a "code" and authorisation to book the interpreter. However this has an implication on myself as the Deaf patient as they are not Deaf aware and do not listen to me when I tell them I need a specific interpreter for my appointments. I would prefer the old system was back in place.

When I make specific requests I receive a text message to say "no, NHS will decide your interpreter". There is no point in them deciding as I am the Deaf person and have specific communication needs. Also this is wasting NHS money using other agencies who provide interpreters who are no good to me!

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Response from NHS Fife

Thank you for taking the time to comment on the changes recently made to interpreting services in NHS Fife.

In Fife we are committed to ensuring that BSL users receive information in the appropriate format, which meets individual communications requirements.

We have recently widened our pool of interpreters to ensure that patients do not have to wait for a medical appointment due to a delay in getting a BSL interpreter. This is managed through the Equality and Human Rights Department so that we can ensure that interpreting services are appropriate and timely.

If a specific interpreter is requested then we will endeavour to meet that request if at all possible. We are happy to discuss any individual concerns.

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