GPs urged to improve communication
Published on 17 January 2013 11:30 AM
Nearly a third of patients who are living with hearing loss have revealed they struggle to understand what their GPs are telling them.
The findings have led charity Action On Hearing to urge healthcare professionals to take more care when explaining diagnoses to people who have difficulty hearing.
The poll of 900 people with hearing loss discovered that 28% have felt unclear about what they have been told during a GP appointment, with most misunderstandings taking place when doctors do not speak clearly or do not face their patient while talking to them.
Paul Breckell, chief executive of the charity, said: 'It's disappointing that many people with hearing loss have difficulty understanding vital health advice because GPs aren't meeting individual communication needs.
'With deaf awareness training and simple changes, GPs can provide a much better service for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing and help avoid unnecessary follow-up appointments or the risk of exacerbated poor health.'
GP surgeries must make 'reasonable adjustments'
The survey, for a report called Access All Areas?, found only 39% of people they spoke to had their individual communication needs recorded on their patient records with their GP.
As a result of that, the charity has called on GP surgeries to put clear procedures in place - as the Equality Act 2010 says GP surgeries must make 'reasonable adjustments' to be accessible to people with disabilities - which will help the 10 million people in the UK who have hearing loss experience the same level of service as other patients.
Meanwhile, the charity is looking for more people who have hearing loss or tinnitus to join its research panel.
Panellists will be able to influence the charity's work by taking part in research projects by completing short online surveys as well as through one-to-one interviews and focus groups.
Evidence gathered through the research will inform Action on Hearing Loss's policy, services and campaigning work for a world where hearing loss does not limit people and 'tinnitus is silenced'.
Copyright Press Association 2013