Wales

Healthcare worry for 600,000 deaf and blind people in Wales

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Media captionKay Coleman from Swansea, who has hearing problems, struggles to book doctor appointments on the phone

The 600,000 people in Wales living with sensory loss are not having their basic healthcare needs met, according to a new report.

Deaf and blind people face a situation that is "still grim", according to charities Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, RNIB Cymru and Sense Cymru.

New standards were introduced by the Welsh government over a year ago aimed at ensuring equal access to healthcare.

But the report says little progress has been made.

Richard Williams, director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said the charities that authored the report are "really concerned" that people are leaving surgeries and hospitals unclear about what doctors have told them, what medication they need or whether operations have been successful.

Image copyright Action on Hearing Loss
Image caption Richard Williams from Action on Hearing Loss Cymru said changes are happening too slowly

New standards were brought in after a BBC Wales investigation in 2013 found health boards were breaching equality laws by not providing accessible services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

But 91 per cent of people surveyed for the report said they were not aware of improvements in the way healthcare providers communicate and share information with them.

Kay Coleman from Swansea began losing her hearing 15 years ago and said she finds it "incredibly difficult" to book a doctor's appointment.

An estimated 500,000 people are affected by hearing loss and 100,000 are living with sight loss in Wales.

In a statement the Welsh government said it is "committed to ensuring the standards are fully implemented" and it is working with relevant bodies "to establish how best to capture and record communication preferences for those with sensory loss to ensure their needs are fully met in every healthcare setting".

Image copyright Action on Hearing Loss
Image caption People living with hearing loss have called on healthcare providers to improve the way they communicate with them

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