Most of the time I’m quite a laid-back, balanced, understanding person but sometimes events conspire to bring me to a head of steam and that’s what happened this week! A letter of complaint is now lying on the desk of the Chief Executive of Sunderland City Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust complaining about direct and indirect discrimination against people with hearing loss.
What’s got me all riled up? Well, I just attended the last of three self-management programme training days run by Hearing Link. The course itself is useful (teaching you how to manage your hearing loss better) but the most useful thing was sharing experiences with other people who are hard-of-hearing. I don’t really come into daily contact with other people with hearing loss so this was a bit of an eye-opener. Although we all had a positive mind-set, the complaints we had were legion and all about similar things – the lack of understanding about hearing loss by the NHS! It added to my recent experiences by really tipping the balance and finally driving me to put pen to paper.
At Christmas I was unlucky enough to fall down the last step of a dimly lit staircase while away on holiday, badly twisting my ankle and aggravating a previous shoulder injury (and no, I hadn’t been drinking). Once back in the UK, I decided to get an x-ray of my ankle and to visit my GP to get a referral for physiotherapy for my shoulder. It all went downhill from there.
As I’m hard-of-hearing and can’t hear on the telephone any more, I use email, texts and messaging all the time. However, my experiences in one week consisted of the following:
– to make an appointment at my GP I can only contact them by telephone
– to make an appointment for an x-ray, I need a letter from my GP who can only be contacted by telephone
– to make an appointment for physiotherapy I can only contact them by telephone at which point I need to do a 20-minute assessment by, you guessed it, telephone
– to make an appointment at audiology, I can only contact them by telephone
– when complaining to the NHS about discrimination against people with hearing loss, guess what? They asked me to contact them by telephone! Aaaaargh!
If the audiology department of the local hospital can’t get it right, then what chance do we have?Sometimes you just have to take a stand!
Watch this space for updates … I’m not letting this one get away!!!