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GP access for deaf patients to be improved by free service

7 August 2008

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GP services will be more widely available to deaf patients thanks to a new partnership between healthcare charity SignHealth and GP systems provider EMIS.

SignTranslate, the charity’s web-based communication programme for deaf people, is available free of charge to all GP practices in England until July 31 next year.

The software translates more than 300 medical questions into video clips which use sign language to improve communication between GPs and patients during a consultation.

The 5,000-plus surgeries that use the EMIS clinical system will be able to access SignTranslate instantly via an embedded link from the EMIS desktop. Practices that do not currently use EMIS will be able to access the service by logging on to the SignTranslate website.

Steve Powell, SignHealth’s chief executive, said: “With only about 400 fully qualified interpreters in England to support approximately 70,000 deaf people who use British Sign Language as their first language, it can be a real challenge arranging a supported doctor’s appointment.

“By funding SignTranslate to be free for every GP in England, we hope that every deaf person will be able to see their doctor when necessary.”

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