Tayside and Central Scotland

No interpreter offered to deaf woman during Perth hospital stay

Perth Royal Infirmary Image copyright Josie Campbell
Image caption Deaf patient Sally Doering spent six days at Perth Royal Infirmary with no sign language interpreter

NHS Tayside has apologised to a deaf woman who spent six days in hospital without being offered a sign language interpreter.

The board has agreed to improve practices after Sally Doering was unable to let staff at Perth Royal Infirmary know that she was in pain.

The Perthshire 65-year-old's case was taken up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

NHS Tayside agreed that Mrs Doering's experience was "unacceptable".

Mrs Doering said her family and her advocacy worker asked for a sign language interpreter to be provided when she was taken into hospital suddenly last year, but one was never provided.

She said: "This meant I didn't know what was happening to me.

"I couldn't communicate with staff, I couldn't let anyone know when I was in pain - I couldn't even make choices of what food I wanted.

"I didn't find out what had been wrong with me until I got home and someone was able to explain it to me."

Previous failures

Mrs Doering had received an apology over a similar incident the year before, and another deaf woman complained to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman over the same hospital's failure to provide an interpreter last year.

NHS Tayside has now entered into an agreement with the EHRC to ensure all deaf patients have their communication needs met in future.

Alastair Pringle, director of the EHRC in Scotland, said: "This agreement is important because this is not the first time NHS Tayside has failed to put reasonable adjustments in place to ensure deaf people have access to the support they require.

"We hope that this agreement, which includes NHS Tayside setting out a number of actions they will take to improve their performance, will now resolve the issue."

NHS Tayside nurse director Dr Margaret McGuire said Mr's Doering's experience was "unacceptable".

She said: "We fell short of the high standards of person-centred care that we expect from all members of staff, but we are determined to learn from this and ensure that we identify and meet individual needs every time."

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