Interpreters in Hospital

By: A.C.

Like many people, I probably take my sight and hearing for granted. As I have got older, my hearing has dulled a little, and my once very sharp vision has become a little out of focus and has needed some correction. Laser intervention at the diabetic clinic has staved off problems with my sight so far.

No matter how much I could wax lyrical about what hearing the sounds of nature, music or speech means to me, I cannot under any circumstances comprehend what profound deafness from a very young age actually means. Neither can I actually ever imagine what blindness means.

Until either actually happens to us, those of us who have these senses, have no idea.
None of us would like to taken from our homes, to a place where we cannot communicate, kept in silence, or in isolation with silent strangers carrying out medical tests or minor operations on us, with nobody offering to actually explain what they are doing. It sounds like the script of a science-fiction nightmare film, but it happened here in Scotland.

It was with great dismay that I learned of the BBC report about the deaf Tayside woman who was admitted to hospital, and was given no sign language interpreter to tell her what was happening.

If a foreign national is arrested by the Police in Scotland, and they cannot understand our language, then, at great expense, in order for the wheels of justice to work properly, an interpreter must be provided so that the accused understands every word of what they are charged with and can defend themselves. I have seen programmes on the TV where Policemen at the roadside will phone an interpreter and have that person talk by phone to a driver or arrested person. People who are deaf and have been arrested are treated in the same manner. Communication is vital to help someone understand what is happening to them.

This woman was in hospital for six days and despite an advocacy worker and her family asking for an interpreter none was provided. This was despite a previous similar occurrence at the same hospital where the same woman received no interpreter.

Why does it take the intervention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to ensure that this situation will never arise again at this hospital? What has happened to common decency and sense?

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