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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Southend

What's it like being a deaf person seeing a GP?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Working with the Royal Association for Deaf People, Healthwatch Southend asked deaf residents in Southend what it was like to make an appointment with a GP and their experiences when they reach the surgery.

Sadly we heard about patients' communication needs being ignored, making an often stressful experience even harder.


It’s difficult to make an appointment when the Surgery requires you to phone for an appointment in the morning only, and you are not able to use the phone! Surgery doesn’t permit patients turning up in person to book so, I always must ask a friend or relative to try and make an appointment for me.

When I have visited the surgery to make an appointment and said I am deaf, I have been shouted at loudly and triaged at desk – no privacy and caused distress and anxiety

I have been asked if a member of family or friend could come in to ‘sign’ or write things down


All services funded by the NHS must ask patients if they have special communication needs, make a record of this, with an alert or flag on medical records and take steps to ensure that those communication needs are met. The NHS pays for translation services, including British Sign Language, but there seem to be problems getting translators in time.

We make a number of recommendations which we hope the NHS will take up. Read our report here:

Deaf people's experiences of GP_final
Download PDF • 600KB

Find out more about what the Royal Association for Deaf People does here

If you, or someone you know has had similar issues, please let us know.

We asked the Mid & South Essex Integrated Care Board for a response to our recommendations. Here is what they told us they plan to do:

ICB response to Healthwatch 23.06.23 Final
Download PDF • 218KB

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